Hoops: Three Burning Questions

The Sooners are 24-1, and it's hard to argue they aren't the second best team in the nation, if not the best team in the land.

But here's a look at three burning questions as the conference season hits the home stretch, and March Madness lurks around the corner.

3. Who is the X-factor down the stretch?

Everyone knows that sophomore forward Blake Griffin is one of the best players and arguably the best player in college basketball. But junior college transfer, forward Juan Pattillo has been an excellent addition since the Sooners pulled the redshirt off him a month ago. He has stabilized OU's post presence, giving the Sooners a solid backup for the Griffin brothers, Blake and senior forward Taylor. He has crashed the boards, blocked shots, including a couple huge ones that helped the Sooners fight back for a victory against Texas A&M, and produced offensively. It's always an issue when the best player, in the Sooners' case, Blake, gets in foul trouble, but fear not, Pattillo is not an inexperienced player, and he will be huge down the stretch.

2. Will the Sooners be able to go undefeated throughout the rest of conference play?

There is only one team in the history of the Big 12 that has been able to accomplish that feat: the 2001-02 Kansas Jayhawks, which featured a sensational duo of guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Nick Collison. The Sooners have a similar combination in freshman guard Willie Warren and Blake on the inside. The conference is arguably weaker this year than it was that year because the Sooners and Jayhawks both reached the Final Four in 2002, eventually losing. But the Sooners' upcoming schedule is brutal. After a home game this Saturday against Texas Tech, the Sooners head to Texas , before taking on nationally ranked Kansas on Big Monday, Feb. 23. Then, OU travels to Lubbock to face Texas Tech, before traveling to Missouri , and the Sooners rap it up against Oklahoma State at home. More than likely, OU will lose either at Texas or Missouri , but it is not out of the realm of possibility for the Sooners to become the second team to go 16-0 in Big 12 regular season history.

1. Are the Sooners deep enough to make a Final Four run in the NCAA Tournament?

Simply put, yes, the Sooners definitely have a chance to make a deep run in March. Blake is Blake, enough said. And he has plenty of help around him. Taylor is a great role player, and the addition Pattillo has made a serious impact on the Sooner lineup. OU also has an experienced corps of guards that can break players down off the dribble, pull up and shoot or cash in the three ball. Senior Austin Johnson, with the exception of a couple games, has been Mr. Consistency this year in scoring and distributing the ball around the perimeter. Warren gives OU that electric type of player, while junior Tony Crocker and sophomore Cade Davis give the Sooners potential to knockdown shots from the outside at any time. The Sooners are nine deep with talent at every position, enough talent to make it to Detroit .


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