OU men's basketball: Win over Mississippi State a boost for Sooners' resume
NORMAN — It's still January, but March is right around the corner.
Oklahoma took a break from conference play on Saturday for the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Sooners' 63-62 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs added another positive mark to Oklahoma’s resume, which will be helpful come NCAA Tournament time.
“I thought both teams battled hard,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought it was a huge game for both teams. I thought the guys played like it. Competed like crazy. Very happy to come out with the win.”
Heading into the game, both teams had 12-6 records. Mississippi State was sitting at No. 52 in the NET rankings and Oklahoma was No. 47. The NET — short for NCAA Evaluation Tool — is a system used by the NCAA Committee to solidify rankings before seeding tournament teams. NET takes into account things such as game results, location, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and scoring margin. This is the second season the NCAA is using the NET rankings, which replaced RPI.
The game was a positive for both Oklahoma’s and Mississippi State’s NET rankings. The Sooners jumped two spots to No. 45 and the Bulldogs moved to No. 48.
“At-large resumes are important for everyone at this time of year, and we beat a good ball club,” Kruger said. “That ball club is going to win a lot of games in their conference, so I think it's a positive for sure.”
This would be the Sooners’ third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Last season, Oklahoma won its first-round matchup against Ole Miss, 95-72. OU fell to eventual tournament champion Virginia 63-51 in the second round.
Bracketology projections have Oklahoma as a No. 11 seed for this year’s NCAA Tournament, playing in one of the First Four games. NCAA.com’s Andy Katz and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi both put out their most recent bracketology projections on Friday — before the Sooners played the Bulldogs. Katz has OU playing North Carolina State, and Lunardi has the Sooners playing Liberty in a First Four game.
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Now the Sooners return to conference play, starting with a game Wednesday at Kansas State. If OU keeps its pace in Big 12 play, it should have a solid enough resume to make the NCAA Tournament come March.