Oral Roberts has perennially been a solid mid-major which hasn't quite been able to break through and win an NCAA Tournament game since they made it to the Regional Final against Kansas in 1974. Despite this, they made three consecutive trips to the Big Dance from 2006-2008 (in both the Mid-Con and Summit conferences), before finishing 16-15 a year ago.If Oral Roberts (the man, not the school) had his way, God would lead the Golden Eagles to victory every game. But since that hasn't happened (yet?), their leader is head coach Scott Sutton. Does that name sound familiar? It should. Sutton's father is legendary coach and drinker Eddie Sutton. But Scott is quickly creating a legacy of his own.
One would look at ORU's record from a year ago and consider it a down year, but the Golden Eagles finished 14-4 in conference and had a murderer's row of a non-conference schedule, playing North Carolina, Missouri, USC, Tulsa and Creighton. In fact, KenPom actually ranked their non-conference schedule at .819, good for toughest in the country.
This year, Oral Roberts obviously would like to make it back to the Tournament, but they lost their top two scorers, G Robert Jarvis (17.2 ppg) and F Marcus Lewis (13.3 ppg, 7.2 rebounds). They return Dominique Morrison and Kevin Ford, who combined for 19 ppg a year ago.
ORU had a pretty poor 1:1.1 A:TO ratio, and was a mediocre shooting team (44% FG, 67% FT, 31% 3PT). Despite these numbers, Sutton's team was a solid 87th in the KenPom ratings and were the 41st most efficient defense.
They are similar to Wake in that only 22% of their points come from 3 pointers and opponents only scored 23% of points from downtown.
Wake Forest should be able to have a ton of mismatches against ORU, as although they have two players at 6-10, Damien Bell ( ) is a freshman and junior Javier Nasar is a transfer from Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa. Both will have an adjustment period, and that could be a tough start against Tony Woods, Chas McFarland and David Weaver. Ford, at 6'9" will probably draw Woods, and that should give Tony some ample scoring and blocking opportunities.
In addition, it looks as though Morrison (6'6") will be matching up against Al-Farouq Aminu, who has a definite height advantage.
Wake could get a bit of a challenge in their first game of the season from the Golden Eagles, but the mismatches and the questions surrounding who will step up for Oral Roberts should ultimately lead to a Demon Deacon victory.