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No. 4 Oklahoma St. vs. No. 13 Liberty preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Oklahoma State Cowboys and Liberty Flames meet at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Jonathan Laurent (1) yells as he drives to the basket in the second half of a Big 12 basketball game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Kansas State Wildcats on February 11, 2020 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, KS. Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 4 Oklahoma State vs. No. 13 Liberty as of March 19th at 7 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Oklahoma State: -7: 45% of action, 58% of bets
Liberty: +7: 55% of action, 42% of bets

Over 139: 64% of action, 63% of bets
Under 139: 36% of action, 37% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for Oklahoma State vs. Liberty as of March 18th at 1:30 p.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Oklahoma State -7.5: 45% of handle, 54% of bets
Liberty +7.5: 55% of handle, 46% of bets
Over 139.5: 69% of handle, 68% of bets
Under 139.5: 31% of handle, 32% of bets

The Oklahoma State Cowboys have one of the best players in college basketball, and they earned a No. 4 seed to play the 13th-seeded Liberty Flames on Friday, March 19th. Oklahoma State is just a single-digit favorite in this game, so it could be a trendy spot for an upset. The game will tip off at 6:25 p.m. ET from Indiana Farmers Coliseum on TBS.

No. 4 Oklahoma State: 20-8 (11-7 Big 12): At-large

KenPom rating: 30 Overall, 54 Offense, 22 Defense
NET ranking: 29, (10-6 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Cade Cunningham
Key stat: Oklahoma State is allowing just 31.8% of opponent 3-pointers to go in.

Oklahoma State knocked off some very good teams to close out the season including the West Virginia Mountaineers twice and the Baylor Bears. Cade Cunningham is the player to watch for the Cowboys as he averages 20.2 points per game to lead the Big 12, and was fantastic in the conference tournament. Despite giving up the second most points in the conference, this is an efficient defense especially defending the three-point line.

Watch for Oklahoma State to push the pace as much as possible and have a significant advantage in fast break points.

No. 13 Liberty: 23-5 (11-2 A-Sun): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 97 Overall, 52 Offense, 168 Defense
NET ranking: 86 (0-2 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Darius McGhee
Key stat: Liberty ranks No. 5 in the entire country in fewest turnovers per game at 9.7.

The Flames get the most out of their possessions about as much as any team in college basketball. They try and find the best open look each possession, and they are very efficient offensively. Liberty makes 39.1% of their three-point attempts, which is the sixth best in the country. Defensively, the Flames allow 59.6 points per game, the third fewest in college basketball.

Watch for Liberty to slow this one down to their style of play and make this more of a half-court game.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Oklahoma State -7.5
Total: 142
Moneyline: Oklahoma State -345, Liberty +275

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Liberty +7.5
Point total pick: Under 142
Pick to Win: Liberty

Who’s ready for a first-round upset? As referenced above, the Flames rank among the best in the entire country in several major categories, and a good shooting team is a dangerous out in the NCAA Tournament. This is a showcase game for Cunningham, who is expected to be one of the top picks in the NBA Draft, but Liberty will limit what he can do simply by playing to their pace.

If you like a contrast in styles, this is going to be a fascinating matchup. Oklahoma State plays at the 19th fastest pace in college basketball, while Liberty is the eighth slowest in terms of possessions per game. Take the Flames to cover, hit that moneyline and for this one to go under.