March 2016 means tourney time in Oklahoma as Chesapeake Energy Arena has the luxury of hosting various first round games from the west region. It’s not rare to see great basketball being played in the 405 area, but this weekend’s venue brings yet another opportunity to see one of the best tournaments in the world play out right on our home turf.
That being said, here’s a ranking of the top games we’ll see in OKC on Friday:
1.No. 6 Texas (20-12) vs. No. 11 Northern Iowa (22-12)
These two may not be the best teams playing in OKC, but there’s reason to believe this will be the top game on Friday. Texas has a very exciting team, while UNI has won at least one game in its last two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns have the luxury of getting big man Cameron Ridley back on the court, while Isaiah Taylor is one of the best players in the Big 12. Also worth noting: both teams hold narrow wins over No. 1 North Carolina this season.
2.No. 7 Oregon State (19-12) vs. No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth (34-10)
Interestingly enough, former VCU coach Shaka Smart is now the head man at Texas, so there’s reason to assume the Rams will be playing smash mouth basketball knowing their former leader will be in the building watching. That factoid is just added spice to the game, but the players playing will be a sight to see as well. VCU’s Melvin Johnson can make plays, while Gary Payton II can light it up for the Beavers. It wouldn’t be surprising to actually see the glove himself in attendance at the Peake to see his son and alma mater play.
3.No. 2 Oklahoma (25-7) vs. No. 15 CSU-Bakersfield (24-8)
There’s no doubt there’ll be plenty of OU fans filling the stands for this first round matchup as the Sooners try to spring board a long tournament run with a win over an energized Roadrunners team that’s fresh off a WAC Tournament Championship. CSU-Bakersfield needed a buzzer beater to win that tile game and clinch a spot in the tourney, so there’s always a chance the Roadrunners’ could continue their Cinderella Story with an upset win over the Sooners.
4.No. 3 Texas A&M (26-8) vs. No. 14 Wisconsin-Green Bay (23-12)
Want a reason to check out this game? Look no further than the opportunity to see Thunder center Enes Kanter’s little brother, Kerem Kanter, play for Wisconsin-Green Bay. Kanter is a sophomore on the team and averages four ppg to go with 2.3 rpg. There’s little reason to think the Phoenix will pull off he upset of A&M due to the Aggies relentless defense, but be sure to look out for #1 in the Wisconsin-Green Bay jersey.