NCAA Basketball: Why Oral Roberts vs Washington State could be an upset watch

Some mid-major programs are built to be real thorns in the side of bigger teams during the non-con. Here’s why Washington State should be scared of Oral Roberts.

Each year, there are several mid-major programs that power conference teams simply want to avoid. That’s mainly because those smaller schools bring back high-level talent that on one night could cause an upset.

A mid-major team that fits that category is Oral Roberts, who got nationally famous a couple of years ago thanks to its Sweet 16 run. One of the stars of that team is still around in Max Abmas, one of the nation’s leading scorers of the past two seasons, averaging 24.5 and 22.8 ppg respectively. On any night, Abmas can drop 30+ points and lead an upset over almost anyone.

Most power conference opponents would steer clear of the Eagles as long as Abmas is around. But it looks like they were able to land someone from the Pac-12.

Washington State is in the opposite situation as Oral Roberts, as they lost almost all of their guards from last season. That includes the leaders, Michael Flowers and Noah Williams. Coming back is off-guard TJ Bamba (7.4 ppg), as well as Saint Mary’s shooting transfer Jabe Mullins and Tennessee transfer Justin Powell. He’s the key to the Cougars this upcoming season as he’s likely the starting point guard. If he struggles, then games like this one could be an uphill climb for them.

On paper, I would give the edge in the backcourt to Abmas and Oral Roberts and in NCAA Basketball, guard play is key to winning games. In the frontcourt, however, Washington State is in good shape. Mouhamed Gueye is back after entering the transfer portal, while top-50 freshman  Adrame Diongue is set to have an impact early on. The Eagles don’t have much size at all, although they did land 7’3 transfer Connor Vanover from Arkansas this offseason and he’ll be a body for them in this matchup.

There are upsets that occur each offseason, with some that can be seen miles away while others are complete shocks. This is a matchup I think can be fun for 40 minutes and if Abmas has a little bit of March magic left in him, don’t be surprised if Washington State falls victim to Oral Roberts.