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March Madness Team Betting Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys

by March 16, 2021

Betting Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys

  • Record: 20-8
  • ATS: 17-10-1
  • O/U: 17-9-2
  • Points Scored/Game: 77.1 (50th overall)
  • Points Allowed/Game: 72.9 (243rd overall)
  • Outright Odds: +2700 BettingPros Consensus

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Team Strengths 

The Pokes have the best player in the country and the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft in Cade Cunningham. While Cunningham is fantastic — he’s averaging 20.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists — Oklahoma State isn’t a one-man show. The Cowboys have a strong supporting cast highlighted by Isaac Likekele, Kalib Boone, Avery Anderson, and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, all of whom are averaging at least nine points per game.

Oklahoma State is strong on both sides of the floor, but defense is its true calling card. The Pokes rank 22nd in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Torvik, and 49th in defensive effective field goal percentage. Oklahoma State is particularly strong defending the perimeter, where teams are shooting just 31.6%.

The Cowboys offense isn’t far behind and ranks 53rd in adjusted efficiency. Oklahoma State does the bulk of its work inside the arc, making 52.8 percent of its 2-point shots. The Pokes also crash the offensive glass and draw plenty of fouls by attacking the paint.

Team Weaknesses

Oklahoma State’s fatal flaw is it is way too sloppy with the ball. They’ve committed a turnover on 21.4% of their possessions this season, which ranks 296th in the country. The Cowboys also are an average 3-point shooting team, which could be a problem in its opening-round matchup against Liberty.

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Why They’ll Win It All 

Cunningham gives the Cowboys a chance to beat anyone, and this team is one of the hottest in the country right now. The Pokes impressively knocked off Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament semifinal, proving that they can not only compete but knock off the country’s best.

Also, Oklahoma State can win games by locking opponents down. Cunningham and stout defense might be all the Cowboys need to make a run.

Why They Won’t Win It All 

Turnovers and not enough 3-point shooting. The Cowboys are an entertaining team, but a team that plays as fast as they do (46th in tempo) can’t afford to give away possessions. And while I like Oklahoma State’s supporting cast around Cunningham, I’m not sure they can overcome a bad shooting performance.

Plus, Oklahoma State’s likely first two opponents in the tournament could expose its flaws. Liberty plays a pack-line defense, similar to Virginia, that forces opponents to beat them by hitting perimeter shots. The Flames are dangerous offensively and rank 4th in effective field goal percentage.

If they get past Liberty, the Cowboys will likely face a stiff test from Tennessee. The Volunteers rank fifth in defensive efficiency and have turned teams over on 22.9% of their possessions.

Oklahoma State Cowboys March Madness Prediction 

Oklahoma State’s road to the second weekend isn’t easy. They’ll get everything they can handle from Liberty and Tennessee but will survive and advance to the Sweet Sixteen, where they’ll be knocked out by Illinois.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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