Oklahoma on the outside looking in of Joe Lunardi’s early 2024 bracketology for ESPN

The first two years of the Porter Moser era ended outside of the NCAA Tournament. If the early bracketology from Joe Lunardi of ESPN is any indication, the Sooners might not make it in Year 3 either.

The Sooners made strides last season, highlighted by the blowout win against Alabama in Norman. However, they couldn’t find consistency, especially in Big 12 play.

Lunardi has eight Big 12 teams projected into the tournament, including new additions to the conference, such as Houston. Kansas is projected to be the best team in the league by Lunardi. The Jayhawks are the 1-seed in the South.

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After the season ended, Moser and his staff faced a big rebuilding job again. They had six open spots on the roster due to transfers, and Grant Sherfield entered the NBA draft.

The roster is an issue in addition to how stacked the Big 12 is going to be once again. Houston is the best newcomer to a conference already loaded with powerhouses Kansas, Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech. The Houston Cougars are projected to earn a No. 3 seed in 2024’s March Madness.

Roster Additions:

Le’Tre Darthard (6-4, 180, Utah Valley): Darthard averages 14 points, 4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Darthard is originally from Denton, Texas, and should provide some help for the Sooners on the perimeter.


Rivaldo Soares (6-6, 205, Oregon): Soares was brought in for experience. He’s using his final year in Norman and following Armon Gates over from Oregon, too. He’ll help a lot with the Sooners’ toughness because he averages 4 rebounds per game as a guard.

John Hugley (6-9, 265, Pittsburgh): Hugley comes in to help the front court and is exactly what the Sooners need after Tanner Groves used up his eligibility. Hugley was injured some of last year, but averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds per game two years ago.

Javian McCollum (6-foot-2, 155 pounds, Siena): McCollum averaged 16 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds last season. He’s going to be a massive help for the Sooners as they try to push the pace more with him in the backcourt.

Expectations for next year:

It’s still early to predict, but the Sooners look better than they were last year. They’ve added more depth and athleticism with their transfer portal and recruiting additions.


Oklahoma needs another front-court player to pair with John Hugley. The interior is where Oklahoma State and Texas Tech took advantage of the Sooners. They’re still in the running for a big-time transfer, Keshad Johnson, from San Diego State. If they can land Johnson, they’ll be a more formidable team in their final year in the Big 12.

There are many unknowns with this team because of the roster turnover. But if the transfer portal acquisitions can make them more efficient from three and provide more athleticism, they’ll have a chance to get back into the tournament for the first time since 2021.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire