Oklahoma State Basketball: Cowboys should thrive in underdog role

The Oklahoma State basketball team has done well in the underdog role this season, and they fit that bill once again against the Michigan Wolverines.

The Oklahoma State basketball team has done the best in situations this season that had them in an underdog role. For example, most of the country counted the Pokes out this season when they lost their first six Big 12 games in a row. Yet, they came back and ended up winning nine games in conference play during the regular season.

Yet, when expectations were set too high the Cowboys did not meet them. Another example, when the Cowboys were actually favored to beat the Iowa State Cyclones in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, they ended up losing by nine.

Head coach Brad Underwood thrived in an underdog role as well with the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. Underwood actually won two NCAA Tournament games with SFA. He’ll be in the same sort of situation once again when the Cowboys face the seven seed Michigan Wolverines in the Round of 64 on Friday.

OK State and UM has all the makings of what will be a tremendously entertaining first round matchup. Both offenses score at a high rate, while both teams are not the best defensively. However, the Cowboys have something that the Wolverines do not, a point guard the caliber of sophomore Jawun Evans. Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. are talented players without a doubt, but they are not the same caliber as Evans.

There’s something about Evans that gives you the distinct vibe that he could pull off something like a Stephen Curry or Kemba Walker-like run in the NCAA Tournament. Evans has the undeniable ability to run effectively in transition, beat people off the first step, and quickly get into the lane. His floaters are extremely hard to defend for any team. And, he is a tremendously effective mid-range shooter as well as a capable outside shooter.

Nobody on the Cowboy basketball roster has experienced more heartbreaking defeat in the NCAA Tournament than senior shooting guard Phil Forte. This is Forte’s last crack at things in the Big Dance and he’s sure to leave it all on the court like he never has before. Forte has never won an NCAA Tournament game, with three first round exits during his five years with the Cowboys.

We’ll see how the Cowboys fair in their Round of 64 matchup against Michigan on Friday, March 17 at 11:15 a.m. CT. They enter the game as 2.5 point underdogs. Moreover, according to ESPN, the Cowboys were only picked 26 percent of the time by the public during the Tournament Challenge. You can watch Friday’s first round contest between the Pokes and Wolverines on CBS.