INDIANAPOLIS — For both Arkansas and Oral Roberts, Saturday evening's contest comes with some historic underpinnings. For the third-seeded Hogs, it marks the program's return to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 25 years. Oral Roberts, on the other hand, is just the second 15-seed to ever make the tournament's second weekend (Florida Gulf Coast, aka Dunk City is the other). The Golden Eagles are attempting to become the first 15-seed to ever make the Elite Eight. It all goes down Saturday night at 6:25pm on TBS, at Banker's Life Fieldhouse.
Now, ORU is not your normal 15-seed. They boast the nation's top-scorer, Max Abmas, and the top scoring duo in the country, in Abmas and Kevin Obanor. Obanor, a 6'8 sharpshooter, provides a matchup nightmare. Expect to see a lot of Devo Davis on Abmas, similar to how the Hogs limited Jordan Burns and Mac McLung in their first two games.
Oral Roberts comes into Saturday as the 12th best three point shooting team in the country, and the best free throw shooting team in the nation by percentage. Arkansas has a knack for guarding without fouling, and that will be key to limiting the Golden Eagles at the line.
Arkansas native RJ Glasper, who played one year for the Hogs before transferring, played a role early in the season for ORU, but has been out due to injury. Glasper's brother, Landon, currently plays for Fayetteville High School.
Of course, this is a familiar matchup, as the Golden Eagles made the short trip from Tulsa to Fayetteville earlier this season. Though Arkansas ended up winning that game, the Hogs trailed by ten at halftime, and didn't take a lead until there were less than 13 minutes to play. Abmas scored just 11 points in that game, though his role has changed significantly since then, as he's become a ball dominant scorer. As Abmas' usage went up, so did Oral Roberts overall play, so expect a lot more of Midcourt Max, as they call him, this time around.
The winner of this game will advance to the Elite Eight on Monday, where they take on the winner of top seeded Baylor against 5th seeded Villanova.