Oral Roberts: What to Expect From Last Year’s Cinderella
The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles were the surprise of the NCAA tournament in the 2020-21 NCAA Men’s Basketball season. As a 15 seed, the team defeated powerhouses in Ohio State and Florida. Eventually, they succumbed to Arkansas in a heart-breaking 72-70 defeat. Not all was lost for the surprise of the Summit Conference. Out of their two stars, Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor, one still returned and the team also lost only four other players where only one other one was a double-figure per game scorer. Can the Golden Eagles return to the tournament again this year? Can they make an even deeper run this time? Without further adieu, let’s delve into what to expect from Oral Roberts this season.
Last Year’s March Madness Cinderella: What to Expect
Oral Roberts: Their Season so Far
As of right now, Oral Roberts sits atop of their respective conference with a 5-4 win-loss record. Bear in mind, they have yet to play any conference teams. The Golden Eagles possess one of the most potent offenses in the nation as the team is averaging an offensive rating of 115.7. This ranks 23rd out of 358 schools. It is their defense that has left something to be desired as they hold a team defensive rating of 91.6 ranking 99th.
The defensive rating certainly is not terrible, but with the talent on this team, it could still be better. In their loss against Colorado State, they gave up 109 points. That is unacceptable for a college basketball team. One bright spot Oral Roberts can hang their hat on is their team rebounding. They have grabbed 397 total rebounds at the time of this piece being written and only two other Summit Conference teams have them beat in this category, Western Illinois and South Dakota State. The College season is still young, so it is hard to predict whether or not Oral Roberts can make another bid for the NCAA tournament, but we will focus more on that later.
As alluded to earlier, the Golden Eagles were able to retain their best player. Abmas and Obanor formed a deadly two-man duo. They both had solid range which frustrated defenses and opened up pick and pop opportunities. Unfortunately for Oral Roberts, Kevin Obanor is now with Texas Tech. Abmas’ points per game average have dipped down to 21.5 points from 24.5 points, but he is shooting even better from the three-point territory at 44.9 percent. In other words, he is their Stephen Curry. His dip in scoring production could also be associated with another quality player transferring in from Vanderbilt, Issac McBride.
McBride is a 6’1 guard who is currently averaging 10.6 points per game to go along with a three-point shooting percentage of 45.2 percent. That gives the Golden Eagles a backcourt of two guards who are instant threats from deep whenever they cross the half-court line. In the absence of Obanor, DeShang Weaver has been asked to step up and provide valuable minutes in the frontcourt. He has done so as he is averaging a career-best best 10.8 points per game while grabbing 4.1 rebounds per contest. With this talent, Oral Roberts is not without hope.
It is hard to say at this point who will make the tournament and who won’t. The Golden Eagles have a relatively pedestrian record as of now, but that could easily change. Behind the leadership of Max Abmas and head coach, Paul Mills, this squad could make it as a lower seed again. Now that they know what it takes to win in March Madness, do not discount the Golden Eagles when filling out your bracket this year. Especially now that they know how sweet it is to upset teams.
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