College Basketball Betting Preview: Oklahoma at Texas
by Matt Severance - 02/20/2009
With Connecticut losing earlier this week, we will have a new No. 1 team in the polls Monday, and the team at the front of the line is No. 2 Oklahoma. However, the Sooners have a major test at Texas Saturday night on ESPN.
The Horns have been a bit of a disappointment and sit tied with three other teams at fourth in the Big 12 at 6-5. They aren't a lock yet for the NCAA Tournament, and Monday's 15-point loss at Texas A&M, where star guard A.J. Abrams had a season-low-matching seven points, won't help their cause. Earlier wins over UCLA and Villanova will look good on the Horns' resume, but they've lost four of their last six (1-5 ATS) and haven't beaten a Big 12 team with a winning league record.
The Sooners have been off since routing Texas Tech last Saturday, when All-American Blake Griffin had career-highs in points (40) and rebounds (23) to become the first player in Big 12 history with at least 40 points and 20 boards in a game. The Sooners have won 13 consecutive games this season and 14 straight in the Big 12 regular season dating to last year. Oklahoma's 25-1 start to the season is the best in school history and the best by a conference team since Kansas was 34-1 in 1996-97.
Texas has won six of the past seven in this series, but the last one was a Sooner 78-63 victory in Norman on Jan. 12. OU's Griffin had his typical double-double in that one, scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Abrams had 22 points to lead the Horns.
Griffin leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.8 ppg), rebounding (14.2 rpg) and field goal percentage (.638), while ranking fourth in blocks (1.3 bpg). In three games this season, Griffin totaled at least 20 points and at least 20 rebounds. No other player in Big 12 history had more than two such games in a career. Nationally, Griffin ranks first in rebounding and double-doubles (22), second in free throw attempts (9.8 per game), fifth in field goal percentage and 11th in scoring.
It's really pick your poison with Griffin as far as deciding to double team him.
"We feel really good if they come double because we have other good players," said OU coach Jeff Capel. "Blake is a good passer, he is a willing passer. But also, at the same time, if you don't double him, we feel really good about that, too, because of his ability to score and get guys in foul trouble and get to the free throw line."
Abrams leads the Horns in scoring at 16.8 per game and will set a school record on Saturday for most career games played at 135. He shot just 8-for-27 from the field in that earlier loss to the Sooners.
The Sooners actually lead the series 16-14 all-time in Austin, but the last time UT dropped a home contest against an AP Top-5 team was in 2002 (five straight wins). But the Horns are just 3-7 ATS at home this season; OU is 5-2-1 ATS on the road.
In my opinion, this could be a trap for the Sooners, as Texas is desperate and needs this one to salt away an NCAA bid. Plus OU has an even bigger game just 48 hours later at Kansas.