Eric is otherwise occupied, so you're stuck with me in charge of your basketball previews for a while. We're going to do things a little different on this one and use our Q&A with Rich DeCray at Crimson and Cream Machine for the preview. You can read Eric's preview of the game in Norman here.
TB: What's been the single biggest factor in pushing Oklahoma from a solid Big 12 team to a possible national-title contender?
RD: Simply put, experience. Four of the Sooners' starting five have started 80+ games together which is literally unheard of in the world of college basketball these days. The time on the court together has instilled a knowledge of the others' strengths and weaknesses. Oklahoma tends to play toward those strengths while refusing to hit the panic button at anytime during a 40 minute contest.
TB: If you have one, what's your biggest concern about this weekend's contest?
RD: No matter where KSU and Oklahoma meet, the Wildcats always seem to give the Sooners problems. In Norman, K-State scored 21 points off turnovers while collecting another 17 from second chance opportunities. However, it's bench production that has me worried the most. On January 9th, the Oklahoma bench produced a mere six points. You heard me correctly...six points...to KSU's 36 point bench outing! The output left the starters and more specifically, Buddy Hield to shoulder the scoring burden. If any of the starting guards pick up two quick fouls, I'm not sure who Lon Kruger can turn to off the bench.
TB: Building on that, what's your biggest concern about this team over the next two months of the season?
RD: It's definitely the wear and tear of the season and the minutes the starters are playing. Although Oklahoma is not the only program with this predicament, the Big XII remains a tough league with physical play. Projected as a No. 1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament, an injury could quickly derail those dreams and aspirations. It'll be interesting to see how the number of minutes put up by the starters affects a team like OU in a tournament scenario.
TB: If you could only be guaranteed one of the following, which would you rather have: an outright, regular-season Big 12 title, or a Final Four appearance?
RD: It would be nice to dethrone the Kansas Jayhawks but the larger goal has and always will be a National Championship. With that said, I'll taking a Final Four appearance any day!
TB: How much does Oklahoma win by Saturday?
RD: I honestly think this one remains a single-digit win for Oklahoma somewhere in the realm of seven points.
Thanks to Rich for his answers. You can read my answers to his questions at C&CM. I'll be in attendance at this one, so enjoy the game, BOTC.