Just a few minutes after finding out who Oklahoma would play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and all the potential options for opponents for the next month, Sooners’ coach Lon Kruger knows that they’ll see plenty of styles.
Kruger knows that fellow up-tempo teams are definitely more attractive to the Sooners as opposed to defensive-minded teams that keep final scores in the 50s. Avoiding Big 12 Conference teams would be another plus – having the chance to face Texas in the Sweet 16 or Baylor in the Elite 8.
One team Oklahoma will be happy to miss is West Virginia, who the Sooners would only play in the national championship game.
“I don't think anybody else plays like West Virginia,” Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins said. “I think they're one of a kind. West Virginia's a different type of team.”
Ryan Spangler said it would be nice to play somebody else after the grueling nature of the Big 12 season, which pits every team against one another twice a year. It gives the Big 12 a unique schedule, but it’s one that has a tendency to wear down its teams.
There’s such familiarity between the teams that weaknesses are exploited, forcing top players like Buddy Hield to do even more to excel.
It has probably worn down many of the league’s teams. It has also gotten Oklahoma ready for the NCAA Tournament. The conference has plenty of different styles. Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma like to run. Texas, Kansas State and Texas Tech like it slow. Baylor provides a unique zone look. TCU and Oklahoma lean heavily towards man defense.
Then there’s West Virginia.
“This conference is very diverse,” Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin said. “It’s not one style of play. It helped us get ready for what the coaches will set up for us. We’ll be ready.”