Northwestern (8-3, 0-2 B1G) has a crack at a marquee non-conference win when it hosts Oklahoma (10-1) Friday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Nearly a year ago, Trae Young and the Sooners hung 17 three-pointers on the Wildcats en route to a 26-point win in Norman. Lon Kruger’s squad will be in Evanston Friday night sans Young, who’s now an Atlanta Hawk, but the Sooners have put together an impressive start to the season.
Oklahoma boasts the 10th-best defense in the country, per KenPom, and the Sooners’ excellence on that end of the floor has netted them wins over Florida, Dayton, Notre Dame, and Creighton. The Sooners also have wins over USC and Wichita State. Their lone loss came to Wisconsin by 20 in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Picked to finish eighth in Big 12 in the preseason media poll, the Sooners are flirting with the top 25 rankings, and KenPom has them at 27th in the country. They’re led by senior Christian James, who is averaging 18 points per game and nailing 39.1 percent of his threes. Former Whitney Young standout and University of Pacific transfer Miles Reynolds has been a welcome addition to the team, too. Big man Khadeem Lattin is gone, but Jamuni McNeace has been almost as good at sending opponents’ shots back.
The point is, this is a good, experienced Oklahoma team. Tonight’s game figures to be a defensive battle, but Northwestern will have the benefit of playing at home. A win would be a significant (and perhaps only) notch in the Wildcats’ non-conference belt. A loss would mean another missed opportunity for a team that will have to scratch and claw to float around .500 in Big Ten play.
Here’s how to tune in:
Game Time: 8 p.m. CT
Radio: ESPN 1000 AM
Betting line: Northwestern -1, O/U 141