Ah, Thanksgiving week. A time to be grateful for the privileges of modernity, like being
contractually obligated able to watch a college basketball game emanating from the Bahamas at noon Eastern, like today’s matchup of Florida and Oklahoma (noon, ESPN or WatchESPN).
The Gators are one of the favorites to win the 2018 Battle 4 Atlantis, as the third highest-rated team per KenPom in the eight-team field. And if the Gators who played against Charleston Southern and La Salle — quick, long, athletic, and committed on defense even if their shots aren’t falling — are the ones who take the floor in Nassau, then I think they’ll have a fair or better chance to beat any of the other seven teams.
But Oklahoma is another KenPom top-50 team, even after the departure of the sensational Trae Young, and though the Sooners are yet to face a KenPom top-100 team, they also have three wins by double digits this year.
Sooners senior guards Christian James and Aaron Calixte and sophomore forward Brady Manek are the only Oklahoma players to take more than 20 shots this season — and of the three, James has been the most efficient, making 14 of his 17 twos. Calixte, a Maine transfer, has sunk half of his threes, however, and Manek has been effective inside and out, rebounding well and making about 35 percent of his triples.
The Sooners are also among the nation’s best-shooting teams from deep in this young season, something that might be neutralized or mitigated by the odd shooting setup in the Bahamas, where an unusually dark background lurks behind the hoop.
Both teams would like to run, so this could be an uptempo game, and both teams should want to win for strength of schedule purposes: The winner advances to meet the winner of a game between Wisconsin and Stanford on Thanksgiving Day, and likely keeps hopes of seeing Virginia, lurking on the other side of the bracket, alive.