Entering Monday's rematch with rival Oklahoma, the surging Oklahoma State Cowboys and freshman sensation Cade Cunningham are projected as a No. 4 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament by CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm. However, bettors at William Hill Sportsbook are not currently able to bet on the Cowboys to win the national championship because there's a real possibility they will not be allowed to compete in the Big Dance.
Cunningham was spectacular in the Pokes' 94-90 overtime upset of the Sooners on Saturday in Norman with a career-high 40 points along with 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. It was the first 40-10 game vs. an AP Top 25 opponent since Marquette's Steve Novak had 41 points and 16 rebounds on Jan. 3, 2006 against UConn.
It was the eighth 40-point game in Oklahoma State history, and Cunningham is the only freshman in the country with a 40-point game this season. Cunningham leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.8 ppg and is almost a lock to go first in the 2021 NBA Draft no matter who wins the lottery.
However, last summer the NCAA hit the Oklahoma State program with a one-year postseason ban for recruiting violations committed by a former assistant coach – not one on current head coach Mike Boynton's staff. OSU appealed that ruling and if the NCAA doesn't rule on it before the NCAA Tournament, the Pokes would be allowed to play. As an ESPN story noted, "the chaos of the pandemic has caused major delays for NCAA rulings" – not that the organization ever moves all that fast.
The uncertainty, though, is why William Hill bettors can't bet on OSU to win the tourney. No other sportsbooks are allowing wagers on the Cowboys, either.
"They're going to be kept out until the situation becomes more clear on/before Selection Sunday. If they're cleared to play games, then they'll be added," a spokesperson for William Hill said.
Selection Sunday is March 14. The Cowboys are peaking at the right time on a four-game winning streak – including back-to-back victories over ranked opponents. OSU was originally to host Oklahoma on Jan. 16 but that was postponed due to COVID issues. Thus, the rivals will play back-to-back Bedlam games for the first time in 12 years. OU is a 1.5-point favorite Monday on the college basketball odds.
Palm currently lists the Sooners as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, although they will fall quite a bit from their No. 7 ranking in the new polls later Monday after also losing to horrible Kansas State last week. Okie State should get into the Top 25 on Monday.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Projected Oklahoma State NCAA Tournament futures as of today
- To reach Final Four +550
- To win national title +2800
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