All season we have provided you updates on where the Flames stand in the national rankings. Now it’s the Big Dance, and while the rankings may not matter as much once you are in the tournament, we will use rankings and ratings as tools to compare the Flames to their first-round matchup in Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State: 29, Liberty: 86
The Cowboys are ranked 29th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET). The only team Liberty has faced this season that has a similar ranking is Purdue who is at No. 22 in the NET. The Flames lost to the Boilermakers, 77-64, in the season opener for both teams on Nov. 25. Oklahoma State is 10-6 against Quad 1 opponents, 2-0 against Quad 2 opponents, 3-2 against Quad 3 teams, and 5-0 against Quad 4 schools.
Liberty, on the other hand, is 0-2 against Quad 1 teams, 1-0 against Quad 2 opponents, 2-1 against Quad 3 schools, and have a 16-2 mark against Quad 4 opponents. The Flames and Cowboys have one common opponent on the year in TCU. TCU (#141 in the NET) beat the Flames 56-52 in the Hall of Fame Classic Championship. The Horned Frogs also beat Oklahoma State twice in Big 12 play, defeating the Cowboys by scores of 77-76 and 81-78.
Oklahoma State: 30, Liberty: 97
The Cowboys are ranked in the top 30 of the KenPom Ratings while the Flames are barely in the top 100. This is mostly due to the strength of schedule as OSU has a +14.63 strength of schedule rating while Liberty owns a -6.63. The Flames have an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 110.1 and an adjusted defensive efficiency rating of 101.8 (both out of 100 possessions). The Cowboy’s offensive rating is the same as the Flames with a 110.1, while their defensive rating is 91.3.
College Basketball Power Index
Oklahoma State: 36, Liberty: 72
The BPI is determined by two main factors: SOR (strength of record) and SOS (strength of schedule). The Flames have an SOS of 298 but a SOR of 89. Oklahoma State is top 15 in both categories as the Cowboys own an SOS of 15 and a SOR of 8.
STYLE OF PLAY
This is not a “ranking,” but involves statistics that prove to be interesting as these two teams square off. Polar opposites in pace of play, the Cowboys love to push the pace and get out quickly in transition. The Flames on the other hand like to slow things down and allow their offense to set up.
Now let’s see how these different styles translate into statistics. Liberty averages roughly 65.6 possessions per game. The Flames are able to make these possessions count by finding high percentage shots. The Flames are #16 in the nation when it comes to field goal percentage (49.13%). These high percentage shots result in a respectable 74.9 ppg. The Flames also use strong defense to get stops and make up for lack of possessions. Liberty is ranked #3 in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 59.6 ppg.
Oklahoma State likes to go fast. The Cowboys are 19th to Liberty’s 340th in possessions per game, averaging 76.3 possessions per game. Despite getting over ten more possessions in a game on average than the Flames, Oklahoma State only averages two more points per game with 77.1. The Cowboys take good looks as well, as they own a very respectable 46.74 field goal percentage. Despite a great offense, the Cowboys struggle at times on defense, allowing 72.9 ppg which is 240th in the nation. Since OSU only scores five more points per game than they allow defensively, they have been prone to playing in tight contests all season.
This statistic could very well play a major factor in determining the winner of Friday’s contest. The Flames do an excellent job of limiting turnovers. The Flames average an even 10 turnovers per game while maintaining an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.65, which is good for 3rd in the country. The Cowboys are a different story. Oklahoma State averages 15.9 turnovers a game (#325 in the nation) and owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of .83 (#280 in the nation). While the Cowboys can afford to turn the ball over more than most teams due to the high amount of possessions they get per game, turnovers can be extremely costly in the tournament especially if you are not shooting the ball well. If the Flames can disrupt OSU’s transition offense and force turnovers then they will have a chance at the upset.
The #13 Flames will face #4 Oklahoma State in the Midwest Regional First round on Friday, March 19th, 2021. The game will tip-off at 6:25 est and will be televised on TBS.