There is a lot of new in college basketball this season with the transfer portal and coaching carousel. Due to those changes, the remaining key members of the Oral Roberts team that made history in the NCAA Tournament are gone, and now they enter into a new era of Golden Eagles basketball.
In their second game against a D1 opponent this season, the Golden Eagles are set to play the Missouri State Bears, and after beating them last season, I’ll break down why the roster changes will bring a different result to this matchup.
Max Abmas was the face of the Oral Roberts basketball program for quite some time, and in the team's first two games since he transferred out, it’s clear they are still searching for an identity. The Golden Eagles dropped their first game of the season to UT-Arlington and walked away with a five-point win over the Mid-America Christian Evangels on Friday Night.
Through those first two games, the Golden Eagles have been led by the upperclassman trio of Deshang Weaver, Kareem Thompson, and Isaac McBride. The three of them are averaging 15.5 points per game or more, but as a team, they are currently shooting 32% from three and rank 132nd in adjusted offensive efficiency rating on KenPom.
For the most part, it looks as if the Golden Eagles will have some guys who can step up on offense, but one of the biggest concerns with this team is rebounding. In their opening game against UT-Arlington, they got outrebounded 52-27, and they only outrebounded an NAIA opponent by four rebounds in their second game.
Not only did Oral Roberts lose Abmas, but they also lost big man Connor Vanover, which could prove to be a problem tonight against a Missouri State team that went toe to toe with West Virginia in their opening game. Despite losing 67-59, the Bears matched the Mountaineers with 38 rebounds while also only committing four turnovers.
Offensively, the Bears were led by Chance Moore and Alston Mason, as they combined for 39 of the team's points. The Bears did not have their best offensive game, but according to ShotQuality, they are currently 9th in the country in adjusted offensive shot quality, so they will likely only improve on that side of the ball moving forward.
Missouri State is currently listed as (-6) point favorites, and I’ll be backing them to avenge their loss from last season while covering tonight. When these teams met last year, the Bears fell 80-77, but the Golden Eagles got a combined 52 points from players no longer on the team.
While the Golden Eagles have had some guys put up solid scoring numbers through two games, I still don’t think they have the scoring potential to outweigh their defensive issues. Entering this matchup, Oral Roberts is 264th in adjusted defensive rating on KenPom and 352nd in adjusted defense on ShotQuality, so between their defense and lack of rebounding, the Golden Eagles are going to give the Bears offense a lot of clean looks tonight.
Defensively, the Bears held West Virginia to a 40.5% effective field goal percentage and a 34.9% shooting percentage. While the Bears may not have a top-50 defense by the end of the season, they are by far the best Oral Roberts will have faced up to this point, and with the Golden Eagles still searching for an identity, I think the Bears can do enough offensively to pull away.
Missouri State Bears (-6)(-110) on Caesars Sportsbook