Keys to the UAlbany-Oklahoma Game
Tonight, No. 14 UAlbany takes on No.3 Oklahoma in the "second" round of the NCAA Tournament. UAlbany is looking to pull the massive upset, but hey, two No. 14 seeds won on the tournaments first day, so UA should be feeling pretty good right now. Here's what you need to know:
Where and When: Tonight, 7:27 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio. Nationwide Arena.
How to Watch: TruTV
The Teams: No. 14 UAlbany comes in representing the America East Conference. The Danes won the A-East by going 15-1 in the regular season and sweeping the conference tournament, including a dramatic 51-50 win over Stony Brook in the title game.
No. 3 Oklahoma of the Big 12 finished the year at 22-10, ranking third in its league.
Keys for UAlbany: If the Danes are going to pull the upset, a few things need to happen:
1. They need to start fast. While UAlbany is effective offensively, they aren't built to come-from-behind against a team like Oklahoma. Keeping the game close early is essential for confidence sake, and also to give Oklahoma that shred of doubt that they could be the next No. 3 to fall.
2. UAlbany needs to get production from its stars. The Danes need to get great efforts -- and points -- from Peter Hooley, Sam Rowley, and Evan Singletary. Thy also need production from Dallas Ennema and Ray Sanders. UAlbany's offensive attack is balanced, and they can't afford someone to have a night off.
3. UAlbany needs to stay out of foul trouble. In a related note to the point above, UAlbany can't get production from its stars if they are on the bench. Early foul trouble to anyone in the starting lineup would be a killer for the Danes.
Keys for Oklahoma:
For the Sooners, it's simple...
They need to come out ready to play. As we saw yesterday, the No. 3/14 game is not a simple cakewalk. They can't underestimate a Danes team that has won 19 of 20 games, and now has the confidence of being America's darling because of the Peter Hooley story.
Oklahoma boasts the Big 12 Player of the Year in Buddy Hield, who averages more than 17 points a game. If they can get him going, UAlbany doesn't have a real good matchup for the 6-4 forward.
Finally, rebounding. The quickest way to let an underdog in the game (Hey, Iowa State...) is to let them hang on the glass. If UAlbany can't get second shots, they can't win. Furthermore, if they can't limit shots, they can't win. If OU controls the glass, they can control the game.
The Ultimate Key: This game will ultimately boil down to this: Which team can play the game at their pace. Oklahoma is very good in transition and will most likely look to speed up the Danes. If this game becomes a track meet, UA is in trouble.
If UAlbany can slow the pace down, grind it out, frustrate the Sooners, keep it close, then anything is possible. Both 14 seeds won yesterday by a score of 60-59. That's where UAlbany wants to be.