Oklahoma Sooners Provide Most Compelling Northwestern Non-Conf Home Game in Quite Some Time

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lon kruger oklahoma

Aside from the very narrow loss to #4 Michigan, the new Welsh-Ryan Arena hasn’t really yet experienced a true rocking atmosphere. While it was indeed electric inside the new barn that evening, the crowd was half (or more) Michigan Wolverines supporters. Friday night brings the Oklahoma Sooners, the first team out of the AP poll and the second out of the coaches polls this week to Evanston.

The back half of a home and home series with OU, this is pretty much the most exciting non-conference home game that Northwestern has seen since…since…well, quite a long time. It can be tough to get a good quality pre-conference opponent to come to your gym, because no one really wants to do home and homes.

northwestern basketball

The end result can be less than interesting (to say the least) pre-conference slates, and Northwestern basketball has struggled with this issue as much as any power five conference team in the country this season.

Enter the Oklahoma Sooners, who come to town at 10-1, with wins over: Florida, Creighton, Notre Dame, Dayton, Wichita State and USC. Their only loss is to #16 Wisconsin. Tip-off between Lon Kruger’s (hey, remember him Illini, Big Ten people?) team and the Northwestern Wildcats is at 8pm local; televised on BTN.

We haven’t seen a whole lot of odds on this game posted yet, but the Oklahoma Sooners (#17 Sagarin and #24 Kenpom) figure to be substantial favorites.

Northwestern has three losses on the season at #22 Indiana (#15 Sagarin and #26 Kenpom), the aforementioned Wolverines setback and a blow out loss to Fresno State (#63 Sagarin, Kenpom) in the Wooden Legacy Thanksgiving tournament.

oklahoma dance team

The Wildcats (8-3, 0-2, Sagarin #47, Kenpom #43) are two Ryan Taylor buzzer beaters going in away from being a 10-1, 2-0 team right now. However, like Homer J. Simpson said: “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, who does that rest of that go?”

The best of their six wins thus far is Georgia Tech in the B1G/ACC Challenge, and that’s not really an impressive win at all. In other words, a win Friday night would certainly help to

a.) give the new arena it’s first big moment

b.) provide the Cats their first resume/signature win of 2018-19

b.) reinforce the beliefs of those who regard the current Northwestern team as resembling the 2016-17 edition much more than the 2017-18 edition.

northwestern basketball

As it stands, the Cats appear, at least thus far, just what we thought they would be in October- way better than last year, but not as good as two years ago. Overall, this is a great “get” for NU this season, as OU is a proud program with a fine history. The Oklahoma Sooners can boast of two national runner-up finishes, five Final Fours, nine Elite Eights, ten Sweet Sixteens and 14 conference championships.

Prediction: Oklahoma Sooners 77, Northwestern Wildcats 68

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation. 

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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