PITTSBURGH — In the first game of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the Rhode Island Rams will face off against the Oklahoma Sooners in what could shape up to be an epic 7 vs 10 battle.
Chestnuts roasting by an open fire. Stockings hung from the fireplace with care. The halls decked with boughs of holly. It must be the most magical time of the year:
I couldn’t even sleep last night, I was so excited. I truly feel like a kid on Christmas morning. The first present I get to open is 10 Oklahoma vs 7 Rhode Island. Let’s see what’s inside.
Oklahoma may be the coldest team in the history of the NCAA Tournament. In fact, they are the only team in history to drop eight of their final ten games and still make the field. Pretty impressive, right?
The Sooners started the year as strong as anyone, winning 14 of their first 16 games (including a 10-game win streak) with their only losses coming against Arkansas in the PK80 Tournament and on the road at West Virginia (ranked No. 5 at the time). In that span, they had an outstanding five wins against Top-25 competition.
From there, their season collapsed. They finished 4-11 with a six-game losing streak in the middle. They did earn a win at home against Kansas but failed to win a single game away from home in that span. Their only other wins were against Baylor, Kansas State and Iowa State. They topped it all off by losing to Oklahoma State in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.
Then they got in the tournament as a 10-seed.
Rhode Island, on the other hand, had a solid start, phenomenal middle, and good end to their season. The Rams started 5-3 with notable wins over Seton Hall and Providence and not-too-shabby losses to Virginia and Alabama. From there, they reeled off 16-consecutive victories, reaching a record of 21-3. They finished their season 4-4, losing 57-58 in the A10 Championship game to Davidson.
Now, here we are.
Oklahoma (18-13, 8-10 Big 12) is led by a player ESPN had the audacity to compare to the likes of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, freshman guard Trae Young. Though Young was able to lead the league in points and assists (27.4 points, 8.8 assists), his team found little to no success once his early season heroics slowed down.
The Rams (25-7, 15-3 A10) rely on senior guard Jared Terrell who leads the team in points (17.2) and minutes (32.9). He is complemented by fellow senior guard, E.C. Matthews (13.1 points, 4.0 rebounds). This backcourt duo is sure to make some noise in this tournament after falling just three points short of the Sweet 16 a year ago.
The 7v10 Matchup
Since 2009, 7 seeds hold a slight 21-15 advantage over their 10-seeded counterparts.
Last year, only one 10 vs 7 matchup was decided by more than eight points. In fact, since 2014, only four games have been decided by a double-digit margin. In other words, expect a tight game.
|Record||18-13 (8-10 Big 12)||25-7 (15-3 Atlantic 10)|
|Vs RPI Top-50||6-7||3-4|
|NCAA Tourney Record||41-30||7-9|
|Worst Loss||Iowa State (RPI 143)||Saint Joseph’s (RPI 146)|
Make sure to tune into the official tipoff of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, scheduled for 12:15 P.M. ET on CBS.
Who ya got?