Oklahoma basketball: Sooners goin’ dancin’, seeded 10th in Midwest

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 19: Trae Young /

Oklahoma basketball has not had a good second half of the season, but the Sooners were good enough in the first half to gain the favor of the NCAA Basketball selection committee.

Related Story: NCAA Tournament would be better served sans Sooners

The Sooners earned the 10 seed in the Midwest Region and will face the Rhode Island Rams (25-7) in the round of 64 on Thursday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The game is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. CT at the PPG Paints Arena. Which network the game will air on has not been determined.

Oklahoma has lost 11 of its last 15 games, but before that the Sooners won 14 of 16 and were ranked as high as No. 4 in the country in the Associated Press Top 25. It was on the basis of the latter, including six wins over teams in the top 25, that the struggling Sooners were among the top 40 seeds in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field.

After the Sooners lost to Oklahoma State in the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament earlier this week, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Oklahoma projected as an 11 seed and on the very edge of the proverbial “bubble” as one of the last four teams to make it into the NCAA Tournament. Although quite a few college basketball had the Sooners getting into the Big Dance, despite their late season collapse, no one had them projected as high as a 10 seed.

Bruce Rasmussen, chairman of the NCAA Basketball selection committee, was asked by college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg, on the TBS “March Madness Selection Show,” how the committee arrived at the decision to slot Oklahoma as a 10 seed.

"“We look at the entire body of work,” Rasmussen said. “The games in November and December count as much as the games in February and March.”"

Oklahoma will be an underdog against Rhode Island, the regular season champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference, but they are clearly capable of beating the Rams. To do so, however, they will have to get back to the way they were playing in the first half of the season before teams figured out the best way to defend Trae Young.

On the same TBS “Selection Show” broadcast, Charles Barkley said several times that the Sooners should not be in the NCAA Tournament, and he and several commentators on the program gave Oklahoma much of a chance to get by Rhode Island and make it beyond Thursday.

Perhaps that will give the Sooners added incentive to play well and prove all the disbelievers wrong.

Seven Big 12 teams made this year’s NCAA Tournament, led by conference champion Kansas, the top seed in the Midwest Region. Texas Tech is the three seed and West Virginia the five seed in the East Region, TCU is the No. 6 seed in the Midwest and Kansas State is the No. 9 seed and Texas the 10 seed in the South Region. Baylor and Oklahoma State did not make the cut, but have accepted invitations to participate in the National Invitation Tournament.