Preseason previews and predictions weren’t particularly kind to the 2019-20 Oklahoma basketball program.
Very few, if any, preseason polls and preview publications, had the Sooners making the NCAA Tournament field, largely because a roster turnover that included the departure of eight seniors.
Even the Big 12 head coaches didn’t show much respect for how Oklahoma would finish in the standings, picking the Sooners to finish eighth out of 10 teams in the conference standings.
Before the season started, ESPN college football analyst Jay Bilas projected the top 68 college basketball teams for the new season. Oklahoma was not among them.
ESPN “Bracketology” headmaster Joe Lunardi projects an NCAA Tournament bracket at periodic intervals before and during the college basketball season. Prior to the start of the season, he projected that five Big 12 teams would make the 68-team tournament field (including four play-in games). The Sooners were not one of the five Big 12 teams picked to make the tournament, which meant that were that prediction to come to fruition, Oklahoma would miss the NCAA Tournament for just the third time in Lon Kruger’s nine seasons as the OU head coach and the first in three seasons.
Now, after three impressive wins to start the season — two coming away from home on neutral floors over teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12 — minds are beginning to change about the Sooners’ season prospects.
The Sooners haven’t made it into the Associated Press Top 25 or the Coaches Poll yet, but they have managed to catch Lunardi’s attention. In his latest “Bracketology” interation (November 15), Lunardi has Oklahoma making the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid as a nine seed. He also has upped his projection for the number of Big 12 schools to make the Big Dance to seven.
Three games obviously isn’t a large enough sample size on which to build an NCAA Tournament case, but it does show that you really don’t know what you are going to get until the actual games get underway.
For the Oklahoma Sooners, let’s hope that the current trend continues and portends good things to come in the more competitive conference season.