Saturday, April 2, 1 PM EST: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Villanova Wildcats
- First round: 82-68 vs. 15 Cal State Bakersfield
- Second round: 85-81 vs. 10 VCU
- Sweet 16: 77-63 vs. 3 Texas A&M
- Elite 8: 80-68 vs. 1 Oregon
Buddy Hield, Senior, G - 25.4p/5.7r/2.0a
Jordan Woodard, Junior, G - 13.0p/3.0r/3.4a
Isaiah Cousins, Senior, G - 12.8p/4.6r/4.6a
Khadeem Lattin, Sophomore, F - 5.7p/5.3r/2.1b
On the back of Wooden Award candidate Buddy Hield, the Oklahoma Sooners went 26-7 (12-6) this year, good enough for third in the Big 12 and 7th in the AP Poll. With four upperclassmen in their starting lineup, and having that same starting five all year, the Sooners have some of the best chemistry in college basketball.
Opponents know what to expect from Oklahoma — a lot of Buddy Hield. And they will gladly live with him getting 25 if they’re able to shut down the other guys, Cousins and Woodard. Isaiah Cousins, the team’s primary point guard, has tallied 15 assists over the last two tournament games, and has the potential to create a lot of shots if Villanova slacks on defense. If the Wildcats don’t slack, but instead help off Cousins, he’s a deadly shooter who’s shooting 42% for the year.
Jordan Woodard is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13 points per game. With a lot of the focus on Hield, Woodard must take advantage of his opportunities. There are five times this year where he’s gone for 20 or points, including 27 against Kansas in the 3OT thriller back in January. Much like Cousins, Woodard is a deadly shooter from outside and rose his percentage to 46% this year. That number has shot up to 78% over the last two games and Oklahoma must find him if the Villanova defenders are cheating too much.
Khadeem Lattin is not only the x-factor but a crucial part of the Sooners’ defense — which is average without him. His 93.5 DRtg per 100 possessions is third in the Big 12, and his size and length helped make him the best shot blocker in the conference: 77 blocks (1st), 2.1 blocks per game (1st).
Previous matchup: 12/7/15, Oklahoma 78 - 55 Villanova
Undoubtedly, the Wildcats are going to apply a ton of pressure on Buddy Hield; sending double-teams, and possibly triple-teams, to get the ball out of his hands. Buddy Hield must make smart decisions with the ball. In their seven losses this year, Hield averaged 3.4 turnovers per game compared to 2.9 in their wins. He did, however, only turn the ball two times against ‘Nova in December, but they got lucky as Hield was very inefficient from the field.
The Sooners are one of 19 teams who made more threes than Villanova this season. That creates a problem, for ‘Nova at least, as the Sooners shoot a staggering 43% from deep. Not only must they find the shooters, but they can’t fall in love with the three. In their 29 wins, they shoot almost four fewer threes (23.6) at a way higher percentage (44%, 39% in losses) than in the games they lost.
In their last game against the Wildcats, they shot 14/26 (54%) from deep.
On defense, they need to study the tape of the game they played against them in December and replicate it as closely as possible. They absolutely stymied the Villanova three-point offense, having them shoot just 13%. The Wildcats are one of the nation’s deadliest shooting teams, not by percentage, but by volume. OU’s best bet is to close out hard and force them into the lane, towards Spangler and Lattin.