Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Albany Great Danes hope to make their mark in a big way, as they take on the Oklahoma Sooners in East Regional second-round action in the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena on Friday evening.
The winner advances to the third round on Sunday to face either sixth-seeded Providence or 11th-seeded Dayton.
Albany is in the tourney for the third straight year after defeating Stony Brook in the America East Conference Tournament championship game last Saturday, 51-50. The Great Danes, who own a 24-8 record on the season and went 15-1 in conference, were saddled with a 14 seed in the event, and they are making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance all-time. UA has won six in a row heading into this contest, but has never won a game in the tournament.
Oklahoma comes in at 22-10 overall, which includes its 12-6 ledger in Big 12 Conference play. The Sooners dropped a 67-65 decision to eventual champion Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament, but were awarded the No. 3 seed in the region. OU is also making its third straight appearance in the Big Dance, 29th overall, and the team owns a record of 35-28 in the event all-time. Oklahoma has reached the Final Four four times, and been to the championship game twice (1947, 1988).
This bout marks the first meeting between Albany and Oklahoma in men's basketball.
Led by AEC Coach of the Year Will Brown, Albany won its first regular-season title since the 2005-06 campaign, and followed that up with its third consecutive conference tournament crown, doing so behind a balanced offensive attack (65.5 ppg) and by playing some pretty stingy defense as well (60.2 ppg). The team boasts three double-digit scorers in Sam Rowley (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Peter Hooley (13.7 ppg, 2.3 apg) and Evan Singletary (13.0 ppg, 2.8 apg), with Ryan Sanders (9.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg) close to joining the ranks. The Great Danes were the top free-throw shooting team in the AEC (.761). Albany owns a +4.8 rebounding margin.
Oklahoma can brag of having some of the Big 12's top performers, as Buddy Hield (league-best 17.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) was named the conference's Player of the Year, and TayShawn Thomas (11.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg) its Newcomer of the Year. As a team, the Sooners score an average of 71.9 ppg in hitting 43.7 percent of their field goal attempts, 34.3 percent of their 3-point tries, and 73.5 percent of their free throws. As for their effort at the defensive end, foes are generating 62.8 ppg while shooting just 38.5 percent from the floor, 30.9 percent from distance and 65.4 percent at the charity stripe.