What You Should Know About Ohio State’s First-Round Opponent Oral Roberts

The journey of six March Madness games begins with one first-round step on Friday for the Buckeyes. As a 2-seed, Ohio State will play 15-seed Oral Roberts this Friday at 3:00 pm on CBS in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Given that this is the first-ever matchup between the two schools, you might be a little unfamiliar with the Golden Eagles. Let’s try to remedy that.

Height Shouldn’t Be An Issue

This is usually one of the top concerns for Buckeye fans given Ohio State’s lack of size down low. Fortunately for you and the Buckeyes, Oral Roberts tops out at 6-foot-8. That being said, 6-8 forward Kevin Obanor is no pushover. He is averaging 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He also shoots 47% from three while attempting four per game. He shoots 88.1% from the free throw line. Obanor has 10 games of at least 20 points this season, including a 39-point outing in a win against Omaha in January. And he’s the second-leading scorer on the team.

Nation’s Leading Scorer

Guard Max Abmas leads the nation in scoring at 24.4 points per game. Even at 6-foot-1, he’s still a high-percentage shooter, converting on 48.6% of his field goal attempts and 43.8% of his three-pointers. Abmas has 17 games this season with at least 20 points scored, seven games of at least 30 points, and two games of at least 40 points. His season-high 42 points came in a win over South Dakota State where he sank 14-of-20 from the field. Don’t be surprised if you see Musa Jallow guarding each of Oral Roberts’ top-two leading scorers at different points throughout this game.

Conference Champs

Oral Roberts made the NCAA Tournament because they won the Summit Tournament Championship. They finished fourth in the Summit during the regular season going 10-5 in conference play (16-10 overall). The are currently in the midst of a five-game winning streak, with the last three being tournament wins. They won their tournament opener 76-65 over North Dakota, then beat top-seeded South Dakota State 90-88, followed by North Dakota State 75-72 in the finals. Interestingly, the Summit League played on weekends this season, with two teams playing each other on back-to-back days with no travel, meaning a school like Oral Roberts would host South Dakota State for two games on a weekend and then the next weekend Oral Roberts would go play two games at an opposing school.

What About the Non-Conference Schedule?

Oral Roberts played four “Power 5” schools and lost all four games. They opened the season with a 91-64 loss at Missouri, then a couple of weeks later dropped a tough one at Oklahoma State 83-78. Eight days later they were at another in-state institution, as the Sooners downed the Golden Eagles 79-65. Then later that week, they were at Arkansas where the Razorbacks beat them 87-76. Oral Roberts also lost a tough won at Wichita State in the third game of the season, 85-80. As you can tell by those scores, the Golden Eagles aren’t exactly defensive minded, and the statistics and analytics don’t disagree. The Buckeyes should be able to score points in bunches, provided their open looks are falling. Fortunately, they’ll be playing in a semi-familiar gym in Purdue’s Mackey Arena.

By the Numbers

Third-leading scorer RJ Glasper is likely out following surgery in February.