This is the final installment of a three part preview to the 2012-13 season of Oklahoma basketball. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2. Stay tuned for constant coverage of Sooner basketball throughout the season.
The Oklahoma Sooners enter the 2012-13 season with a reloaded roster and anxious for some on-court action. All signs indicate the team is greatly improved in seemingly every aspect, but just how many extra wins will that translate to this season? With tip-off under 24 hours away, I’m going to take on the daunting task of trying to predict just that. Here’s some previews and predictions from the entire 2012-13 regular season schedule.
Buddy Hield and the Sooners kick off the season November 11th against Louisiana-Monroe
Louisiana-Monroe (Nov. 11th) – Oklahoma will open up the season against the ULM Warhawks. This game should be close for a few minutes in the first half, after that, expect nothing but a lopsided Sooner victory.
Predicted Sooner Record: 1-0
at Texas-Arlington (Nov. 16th) – Texas-Arlington will present a greater challenge for the Sooners simply because of the road element, but make no mistake, this team is talented too. On their way to a 24-win campaign, the Mavericks won their regular season conference championship, and made an NIT appearance last season. They lose their leading scorer, but return plenty of talent to remian competitive in their first season in the WAC. Still, the Sooners return plenty of talent themselves, and it doesn’t seem likely they will fall to a team from the WAC, even if on the road. Expect Oklahoma to take this one handily.
Predicted Sooner Record: 2-0
Old Spice Classic (Nov. 22nd, 23rd, and 25th in Orlando, Fla.) – The Sooners will see their first real challenge of the season in a packed tournament field including Clemson, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Davidson and 20th ranked Gonzaga. This tournament gives them the chance to add a couple of marquee wins to boost their resume come March. Oklahoma opens up competition against UTEP, a game they should win, before taking on Gonzaga or Clemson pending results from the first games. Gonzaga is likely too strong for the Sooners to hang with, but with any other opponent a victory is plausible. A likely outcome is that the Sooners to go 2-1 in the tournament, opening and closing in style—with a win.
Predicted Sooner Record: 4-1
At Oral Roberts (Nov. 28th) – Oklahoma will head up to Tulsa for the annual game against its always-solid neighbors in Tulsa. The Golden Eagles haven’t had a losing season since 2000-01, and have recorded at least 20 or more wins six out of their last ten seasons. Needless to say, the Sooners aren’t simply going to waltz into the Mabee Center and come away with a victory. It’s going to take some effort. Still, while players like Warren Niles (12.1 PPG) and Steven Roundtree (9.8 PPG 5.3 RPG) are good players, Oral Roberts seems to lack the depth that it had last season, which certainly be a factor in the outcome of the game. Sooners could struggle early, but should be able to put away the Golden Eagles.
Predicted Sooner Record: 5-1
Northwestern State (Nov. 30th) – Returning from its brief home hiatus, Oklahoma will play in the Lloyd Noble Center for the first time since their November 11th opener, as they face the Demons of Northwestern State. The Sooners will get out to an early lead and never look back, coasting to a victory in this one.
Predicted Sooner Record: 6-1
At Arkansas (Dec. 4th) – After the short stop back home, the Sooners will hit the road again, and travel to Fayetteville where they will face Arkansas. It’s eerie how similar these two programs are; their current situations are near facsimiles of each other. Like the Sooners, Arkansas was considered an elite, consistent basketball program not long ago, and almost annual locks for the tournament. Like the Sooners, recent struggles have sent the program into a downward spiral, out of the national picture and into the college basketball doldrums. And, like the Sooners, they fired their head coach two seasons ago and brought in a program reviver in Mike Anderson, who is now entering his second season. This season, resurgence to the top is the theme for both, and this game is a big chance for either to make a statement. In addition to their similar circumstances, both teams also play a similar style, preferring to get out and run. It will likely be heated, fast and physical, and it will come down to the last seconds. Not to mention the atmosphere, a win never comes without difficulty in Fayetteville. When it comes down to it, the home crowd is too overwhelming for the Sooners, and they fall at the hands of the Woo Pig Sooie.
Predicted Sooner Record: 6-2
Texas A&M (Dec. 15th All-College Classic in Oklahoma City) – Smell that? That’s animosity, and there’s going to be a lot of it in the air when the Sooners clash with the Aggies in the All-College Classic. There will be a feeling of “we meet again” when the two face each other for the first time since A&M bolted for the SEC just last year. Both are going to be hungry for a win against their former conference foes, each with something to prove. For the Sooners, it’s guarding the pride of the conference, and showing that the Big 12 is just fine without the Aggies, in fact, better. For the Aggies, it’s showing that they’ve moved on from the conference, and created their own superior brand of basketball. Stakes will be high, and a win won’t come easy, but it looks like a game the Sooners should have a reasonable shot at winning. The talent disparity isn’t huge, and though technically a neutral site, the game is being held in the Sooners backyard (Oklahoma City) factor that in with the yearning for a win, and the Sooners should take this one.
Predicted Sooner Record: 7-2
Stephen F. Austin (Dec. 18th) – Chalk up another home win for the Sooners.
Predicted Sooner Record: 8-2
Ohio (Dec. 29th) – Who? The Ohio Bobcats? Surely this will be another easy win for the Sooners right? Not so fast. Rewind to March and the Bobcats are in the Sweet Sixteen, playing North Carolina for an Elite Eight bid. Though they would eventually fall to the Tar Heels, it was not without fight, and North Carolina needed an extra period to put away the feisty Bobcats. Back to the present, and Ohio is entering this season perhaps a bit under the radar. Experience is not lacking; they return pretty much every major contributor from last season, including all five starters. Expect a hard fought game from the tight-knit group, and an effort that will push the Sooners to the brink. A couple Bobcats could even score 20 or more. However, Oklahoma’s depth matches that of Ohio, and the Sooners survive a scare.
Predicted Sooner Record: 9-2
Texas A&M Corpus-Christi (Dec. 31st) – The Sooners end the year and the non-conference schedule with a bang, hosting this game in the historic McCasland Field House, the second part of a series put on by the program this year (The most recent exhibition versus UCO was held in the field house also). The limited capacity of the Field House will make for a packed game, and a wild atmosphere. The Sooners will eat this up, and see the total in the win column increase by one more.
Predicted Sooner Record: 10-2
At West Virginia (Jan. 5th) – The Sooners will open up their conference schedule with a road game against one of the Big 12’s newest additions, West Virginia. A win never comes easy in Morgantown, and one has to think given the circumstances that the Mountaineers are going to be eager for a win in their Big 12 debut. Oklahoma falls in their first game in league play.
Predicted Sooner Record: 10-3
Oklahoma State (Jan. 12th) – Next the Sooners will aim for a win against in-state nemesis Oklahoma State, who, like the Sooners, look much improved this year. With a pair of future NBA players in LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart, the Cowboys roster is loaded with talent. Fresh and athletic, the Cowboys may jump out to an early lead out of the gate, but their depth, or lack thereof, could catch up with them later on. Throw in the home court advantage and the Sooners are well on their way to winning this bedlam battle.
Predicted Sooner Record: 11-3
Texas Tech (Jan. 16th) – Texas Tech is about as dysfunctional a team you’ll find in college basketball. Following the mass exodus via transfer from the program this past offseason, rumors circulated about head coach Billy Gillispie ignominious treatment of his players throughout his inaugural season as head coach of the Red Raiders, resulting in his eventual resignation from the school. Now, Tech looks in prime position to finish last in the conference. A loss at home to the Red Raiders would be embarrassing to say the least, and the Sooners will look to avoid one at all costs. Oklahoma will have no trouble putting away Texas Tech.
Predicted Sooner Record: 12-3
At Kansas State (Jan. 19th) – The Sooners swept the series Kansas State last season. This year a repeat is plausible; the Wildcats have a new coach, and must cope with the loss of Jamar Samuels down low. The Wildcats will still be good, but the Sooners will match up incredibly well against them. Oklahoma keeps its hot streak alive earning its first conference road win in the process.
Predicted Sooner Record: 13-3
Texas (Jan. 21st) – The Red River Rivalry hits the hardwood, and the Sooners will be seeking revenge after being swept in the season series last year. This revamped Sooner hoops squad is too god for a repeat of that disaster. Oklahoma wins this home game, extending its win streak to four games.
Predicted Sooner Record: 14-3
At Kansas (Jan. 26th) – Kansas? On the road? Not a chance.
Predicted Sooner Record: 14-4
At Baylor (Jan. 30th) – A win here is more likely than a win in Phog Allen Field House, but that’s not really saying much. Plus the Bears have arguably the best player in the Big 12 in Pierre Jackson. Sooners go 0-2 on this tough two game road stint.
Predicted Sooner Record: 14-5
Kansas State (Feb. 2nd) – Finally a winnable game. I said earlier a repeat of the sweep of the Wildcats last season was possible. The Sooner get just that here, getting back on the winning track at home against Lon Kruger’s alma mater.
Predicted Sooner Record: 15-5
At Iowa State (Feb. 4th) – Last year it was Iowa State who took the conference by storm, mixing a slew of transfers to concoct some success. Now it appears to be the Sooners who will look to assume the role as sleeper. Iowa State is no longer flying under the radar, and look to finish in the middle pack of the conference this year. They won’t have Royce White, the centerpiece of their team a year ago, but they return enough talent and bring in enough fresh faces, that they should still compete. They get the upper hand in this matchup between the two teams, due to home court advantage.
Predicted Sooner Record: 15-6
Kansas (Feb. 9th) – Kansas is still Kansas no matter where you play them, but the Sooners have the perfect opportunity to pull off an upset in front of a home crowd here. The Jayhawks won’t go down easy, but with an improved roster the Sooners might have what it takes to get the best of them. Perhaps this is going out on a limb, but I’m going to predict a Sooner upset here, and a win that should be a valuable boost to their tournament resume.
Predicted Sooner Record: 16-6
TCU (Feb. 11th) – The second newcomer to the conference, TCU’s status in this conference looks to be Texas Tech-esque. They could easily go all of conference play with only one or two wins and shouldn’t be much of a threat to the Sooners, let alone on their home floor.
Predicted Sooner Record: 17-6
At Oklahoma State (Feb. 16th) – Like the first contest, this will be a close one. Unlike the first contest however, the Sooners will not have the comfort of home court. Marcus Smart and LeBryan Nash go off, and the Cowboys get some revenge, taking bedlam round two.
Predicted Sooner Record: 17-7
At Texas Tech (Feb. 20th) – Last year the Sooners lacked the talent and depth to win on the road even against a team like Texas Tech, and were the Red Raiders only conference win. This year however, things are different. Oklahoma will have the experience, talent and depth needed to finish this one on the road.
Predicted Sooner Record: 18-7
Baylor (Feb. 23rd) – The Sooners have a better chance of winning this matchup with the Bears than they did the first time the two met, but it will still be tough. Oklahoma will need big efforts from its guards if they hope to win. Unfortunately, Baylor has a great night from the field, and hands the Sooners their first home loss.
Predicted Sooners Record: 18-8
At Texas (Feb. 27th) – The Sooners will be looking for a win to solidify their tournament hopes when they travel to Texas to face the Longhorns for the second time. Texas will be looking for revenge, but Oklahoma, fueled by the motivation to earn a marquee tournament win, will sneak out of Austin with a victory in hand.
Predicted Sooner Record: 19-8
Iowa State (Mar. 2nd) – Now it’s the Cyclones turn to travel to Norman. The Sooners, behind momentum from the crowd, stand a much better chance here. They will hit the 20-win mark and split the season series with Iowa State.
Predicted Sooner Record: 20-8
West Virginia (Mar. 6th) – There are too many variables to constitute a Mountaineer victory in the second game between the two teams this season. It’s senior day, it’s in Norman, and the Sooners will likely be much improved from the first time the two teams met. Oklahoma sees the total in the W column rise after this game.
Predicted Sooner Record: 21-8
At TCU (Mar. 9th) – The Sooners will close out their regular season with a win here, giving them momentum heading into their conference tournament, and hopefully, the NCAA tournament.
Final Prediction: 22-8
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