Oral Roberts has become a trendy pick to repeat as a Cinderella story this tournament, while Duke has become a trendy name to make it out of the region, so one of those things will have to give tonight when they matchup at 7:10 PM EST. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting the point total in this one.
Max Abmas and Oral Roberts became household names once before due to a lengthy March Madness run, and now Abmas is back with another high-scoring offense surrounding him. The Golden Eagles went 30-4 in the regular season and enter tonight after winning the Summit League Conference tournament.
Behind Abmas, the Golden Eagles’ offense ranks 21st in adjusted offensive efficiency rating on KenPom, averaging 82.5 points per game. Oral Roberts ran at the 38th-highest tempo in the country, which led to them ranking 12th in field goal attempts per game. Even with the fast tempo, the Golden Eagles are not just chucking up ill-advised shots, as they rank 7th in the country in effective field goal percentage.
The offensive prowess of the Golden Eagles sets up one of the more intriguing matchups of the entire tournament against a Duke Blue Devils defense that ranks 26th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. The Blue Devils are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak, with the most recent being the ACC title game, and in that span, they only allowed more than 69 points in just one of those games.
Behind Kyle Filipowski, the Duke interior defense has become a force to be reckoned with, but the bright side for Oral Roberts is they are more than comfortable settling for jump shots. The Golden Eagles averaged 10.6 made three-pointers per game this season, which ranks second in the country.
Even though it is not something they rely on often, Duke will also be able to find offensive success from beyond the three-point line since Oral Roberts is 203rd in the country in opponent three-point percentage. The Golden Eagles are 107th overall in defensive efficiency, so the duo of Filipowski and Jeremy Roach can continue their impressively high level of play.
The point total for this game can currently be found at 145.5, and I’ll be taking the over for my play. It would be easy to be scared away by the over record of Oral Roberts, but if you look closely, this total is the sixth lowest total they’ve had all season. The over was 3-2 in games Oral Roberts played with a point total lower than today’s number, and they take on a Duke team tonight that will be forcing them directly into their strength of shooting the ball from deep.
The Blue Devils offense has the chance today to rack up the second chance points, as they had the 7th best offensive rebounding percentage in the country, and match up well against Oral Roberts, who ranks 114th in defensive rebounding percentage. Oral Roberts was 4th in first-half scoring average and 227th in average points allowed, so the opportunities for Duke will be there on the offensive end, especially if they up their tempo.
Five-seed and 12-seed matchups have become some of the most chaotic matchups in the tournament from year to year, and I don’t expect this one to be any different. Both sides should be able to play at their offensive strengths, and if three-point shots are falling, I expect the over to turn a profit.