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Giant Killers: Oral Roberts Advances to NCAA Sweet 16

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AHHHH, YES, The madness of March is a beautiful thing to behold for college basketball fans.  This year’s bracket-busting darling so far is Oral Roberts University.  The Golden Eagles stunned the entire college hoops universe by taking down #2 seed Ohio State in the opening round last Friday as a 16-point underdog!  Needless to say, the majority of the world’s brackets were busted after that titanic upset!  

Most sports fans and sports bettors thought that surely Oral Roberts would come back down to earth against the Florida Gators in the second round on Sunday.  However, the clock has not struck midnight on the Golden Eagles cinderella season just yet.  ORU defeated the Gators 81-78 to advance to the Sweet 16 on March 27th. 

Who is Oral Roberts and how did they get here?

Many casual sports fans are probably thinking, “who the heck is Oral Roberts?”  ORU is a private institution in Tulsa that has a small enrollment of around 4,000 students (usatoday.com).  ORU was started by a famous Christian preacher named Oral Roberts back in 1963.

The Golden Eagles basketball team have made the NCAA Tournament six times during their program’s history.  ORU made college hoops history by becoming only the second team to ever make the Sweet 16 as a #15 seed (espn.com).  The other team to accomplish the same feat was Florida Gulf Coast back in 2013.

ORU finished their regular season with a 10-5 record which was only good enough for fourth place in the Summit League.  However, the key to success in March Madness is getting hot and staying hot!  No team is hotter in the country right now than the Golden Eagles.  ORU had to win three straight games in order to make the “Big Dance” and they have not looked back since. 

The Golden Eagles are led by guard Max Abmas, who has averaged 24.5 points per game and 1.5 steals per contest this season (ESPN).  Abmas possesses blazing speed and the ability to knife quickly through any defense.  Also, we cannot forget about forward Kevin Obanor who leads the team in rebounds with 9.6 per game.

Although the whole country is shocked by how far the Golden Eagles have advanced, ORU head coach Paul Mills has been telling his team that they would win big in March since last November!  Mills has done a fantastic job of getting the Golden Eagles to gel and work together as a team all year long.

What is next for Oral Roberts?

The Golden Eagles will face off in the Sweet 16 against the Arkansas Razorbacks from the Southeastern Conference on March 27th at 7:25 PM EST.  

Will this be midnight for Cinderella?  The oddsmakers seem to think so, as many bookmakers list Arkansas as an eleven point favorite over ORU.  Nevertheless, it will be difficult for any college hoops fan to bet against Oral Roberts’ hot streak at this point.

 

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