By Marc Lawrence — From the PlaybookSports.com March Madness Tourney Guide: 13) Liberty over (4) Oklahoma St by 3 —
Liberty University sure knows how to deep-six a summer scandal, don’t they? First, they fielded a 9-1 juggernaut of a football team that blasted foes by over 17 PPG, then the basketball squad crushed all comers to go 23-5 overall and 14-2 in the conference. Winning is the biggest cure-all, so let’s set the table here.
For openers, we LOVE underdogs in the first round of the NCAA tourney that are “double champions” taking on non-champions (these teams are 20-12 ATS on the blind the last six tourneys). And besides riding a 12-game SU win streak, the Flames rank No. 3 in the land in overall Scoring Defense (59.6), No. 4 in Assist-To-Turnover Ratio, No. 4 in 3-Point Field Goals Made, and No. 5 in Fewest Turnover Per game (9.7).
That’s strong enough to make Keanu Reeves go “Whoa!” in one of the Bill & Ted movies.
Thanks to a glossy 17-10-1 ATS overall mark this season, the Cowboys won a lot of love from the oddsmakers, which brings plenty of value to this game. For added emphasis, Oklahoma State knocked off mighty Baylor in the Big 12 Conference tourney before falling to Texas in the championship game.
The cold, hard truth is OSU hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2009 and last advanced to the second week of play in 2005. Not so for the Flames, who pulled an upset as a No. 12 seed the last time we had a tournament in 2019, beating Mississippi State in the first round. It was their first NCAA tournament victory and they are hungry for more.
The Cowboys’ five straight losses in first round games leads us straight to THE CLINCHER: The Cowboys are 4-12 ATS as a favorite of 3 or more points versus greater than .555 foes under head coach Mike Boynton, including 0-5 SUATS the last five game.