Observations: This Oklahoma senior is poised to break out against Villanova

Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins is just a combined 5-of-21 from the floor in his last two games and appears primed to explode offensively.

The 6-foot-4 senior had one of his best games of the season when Oklahoma beat Villanova in December and finished with 19 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds when the Sooners beat the Wildcats in Pearl Harbor.

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Will the same thing happen on Saturday in Houston?

It’s very possible.

Villanova’s full-court pressure could allow more opportunities for Oklahoma to improvise its offense in transition and that falls right into Cousins’ wheelhouse.

This guy is due to put the ball in the basket.

Justin Jackson could be a wild card against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone

Roy Williams is going to make sure that North Carolina attempts to beat Syracuse’s defense up the floor each and every time the Tar Heels have possession, but eventually they’re going to have to face the 2-3 zone.

That’s where Jackson can be a huge factor.

The 6-8 wing is the forgotten piece to North Carolina’s puzzle, but he’s scored in double-figures in every game this team has played in the NCAA Tournament and has the bounciness to find seams in the middle of the Orange’s defense.

Expect Jackson to attempt to slice angles out of the short corner when the Tar Heels have to do their damage in the half court.

The PF matchup in Villanova vs. Oklahoma will be extremely critical

Kris Jenkins was 0-of-5 from 3-point range when these two teams played earlier in the year in Hawaii and Ryan Spangler tallied a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The two players will square off again on Saturday night in Houston and Jenkins’ ability to bring Spangler away from the rim could be a huge factor in the game.

The 6-5 junior has had a major hand in the Wildcats’ surge over the past month and has the tools to open the floor and create driving lanes for his teammates.

It will be interesting to see who winds up winning this battle at the power forward spot.

Postseason accolades don’t replace runs to the Final Four

News came down on Thursday that Kansas’ Bill Self and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine were named National Coach of the Year and National Player of the Year respectively.

Many people made the case that Villanova’s Jay Wright could have won the award over Self and several others claimed that Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield should have been National Player of the Year over Valentine.

But you know what’s very important to recognize in this situation: Self and Valentine would gladly give their awards back if it meant they each had a chance to play in the Final Four on Saturday night.

Accolades are great ways to decorate your office and rest upon a shelf somewhere, but the pain of bowing out of the NCAA Tournament sooner than you hoped is something that will sting for an awfully long time.

If you asked Self or Valentine, they’d tell you the same thing.

Expect Ohio State to be aggressive in the spring recruiting period

The Buckeyes have already lost three players — Daniel Giddens, A.J. Harris, and Mickey Mitchell — as transfers and need to restock the cupboard in Columbus prior to next season.

Ohio State will return seven players from this past year’s team that reached the NIT and also add two freshman — Derek Funderburk and Micah Potter — prior to next season.

That means that the Buckeyes have at least four scholarships to work with over the next few months and they’ll no doubt be very active in recruiting.

Ohio State already has a visit set up in April with New Mexico transfer Cullen Neal, who will be immediately eligible next season.

Expect a similar trend to continue over the next few months in Columbus.

Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins could have a breakout game vs. Villanova.(USATSI)
Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins could have a breakout game vs. Villanova. (USATSI)

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