2014 Oklahoma Sooners Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 11/3/2014
Lon Kruger is often underrated by many who follow college basketball. This is a guy who has taken five different schools to the NCAA Tournament. He's won 537 games in his career. Oklahoma has been to the NCAA Tournament twice in Kruger's three years at the helm. This was a program that had very little going for it before he came to town. Oklahoma went 23-10 last year, including an impressive 12-6 record in a solid Big 12 Conference.
While Oklahoma did lose their best player from last year's team, the Sooners return four of their five starters. Nearly 71 percent of the minutes played last season return for this year's team. The best news for Oklahoma fans is of the four starters who return this year, none of them are seniors. Kruger is leading a young team that has a bright future ahead of it. They dropped their first game in the NCAA Tournament last year. Can they make any more noise in March this season? Let's take a closer look at the Sooners.
2014 Oklahoma Key Losses and Additions
Cameron Clark didn't miss a game in his four-year career at Oklahoma. He started 93 games and averaged 15.6 points and 5.6 boards per game last year. He scored 30 points or more three times last season. Clark led the Big 12 last year in points per 40 minutes at 22.6. Tyler Neal was named Big 12 Co-Sixth Man of the Year last season. Neal shot 41.3 percent from three-point range, and his spark off the bench will be missed this year. Je'Lon Hornbeak started as a freshman for Oklahoma, but he lost his starting spot last year and then decided to transfer after last season.
Kruger brought in a really nice recruiting class this year at Oklahoma. The Sooners added two guys who were Top 100 recruits nationwide. Dante Buford is the first of those guys, and he averaged a double-double last year in high school. Buford should end up being a great rebounder for this Sooners squad. Khadeem Lattin is another strong frontcourt player at 6-foot-9. Lattin's grandfather played for the 1966 Texas Western team that beat Kentucky in 1966. Lattin has a game that makes him appear to be ready to go right away, and he should see the floor lots this year. Jamuni McNeace will get some time at center this year, but the 6-foot-10 freshman definitely needs to add some pounds moving forward. He weighs only 195 pounds. Dinjiyl Walker and Bola Alade don't project as stars, but they'll give the team more depth at the guard spots.
2014 Oklahoma Backcourt
Jordan Woodard started every game for the Sooners last year in his freshman season. Kruger loves this point guard's decision-making ability. And how can you blame him? Woodard had a 2.17 assist-to-turnover ratio in his freshman season. Kruger said he believes most kids make the biggest jump between their freshman and sophomore seasons, and he expects that out of Woodard. Buddy Hield is a very good shooter who knocked down almost 39 percent of his three-point tries last season. Hield was known as a scrappy player with an inconsistent shot in high school, but he has worked very hard on that shot. He is also a terrific defender. He finished second in the conference in steals last year. Isaiah Cousins will be the third starter in the backcourt for the Sooners. He started as a freshman last year as well. Cousins is the guy Kruger expects to be the defensive stopper for this squad.
2014 Oklahoma Frontcourt
Ryan Spangler is the leader in the frontcourt for Oklahoma. Spangler averaged nine points and nine boards last year. He initially played at Gonzaga. Spangler struggled in his time in Spokane, but he became one of the most consistent big guys in the conference last year at Oklahoma. Spanger's identity is absolutely his ability to rebound the basketball. He works as hard as anyone on the floor, and his teammates feed off his energy. TaShawn Thomas transferred to Oklahoma, but it's not known yet if he'll be eligible to play this year. If so, he'll start in the frontcourt. If he isn't available, look for D.J. Bennett to get the nod. Bennett is the best shot blocker on the team, but he needs to improve as a scorer. As the season progresses, Buford and Lattin will become bigger factors in the frontcourt as well. There is solid depth here.
2014 Oklahoma Sooners Futures Odds
Oklahoma is starting to get a little bit of respect in the futures market from the books. Oklahoma is listed at +5,500 to win the NCAA Championshipat BetOnline. Sportsbook.ag lists the Sooners at +6,500.
2014 Oklahoma Sooners Predictions and NCAA Basketball Picks
Oklahoma is still a very young team, and for that reason I find it hard to believe they could make a deep run in the Big Dance this year. However, be on the watch for this team in the next couple years. The Sooners are building a tremendous base, and these youngsters are going to turn into special players.
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