One of the small pleasures of Selection Sunday — for those college basketball fans who don’t follow the smaller conference tournaments, at least — is discovering new teams they had previously not known about.
No team better illustrates that in the 2021 NCAA Tournament than Oral Roberts, a 15-seed out of the South Region that will face off against 2-seed Ohio State in the first round on Friday. If you don’t know much about the university, don’t grind your teeth over it — this is only the team’s fifth-ever appearance in March Madness, and first in over a decade.
Aside from the fixation on Oral Roberts’ name, however, what is there to know about the small private school from Oklahoma?
Sporting News is here to answer all your questions about Oral Roberts, from where it’s located, its unique name and NCAA Tournament history:
Where is Oral Roberts located?
Oral Roberts University is located just outside Tulsa, Okla., on the banks of the Arkansas River. (Fun fact: It’s also 25 minutes from Blue Bell Creameries in Broken Arrow, Okla. — one of only three production plants in the country).
How big is Oral Roberts?
Oral Roberts boasts a listed enrollment of 4,163 in the fall of 2019. Its campus is 323 acres. Per the university, it offers 137 distinct undergraduate degrees, concentrated into 88 majors within 23 broad fields of study.
Who is Oral Roberts University named after?
Oral Roberts University, a private evangelical university, was founded in 1963 by Granville Oral Roberts — a Choctaw-American Charismatic Christian televangelist who is considered the godfather of the charismatic movement. He chartered the school in 1963, saying he was obeying a command from God; the university received its first students in 1965.
Requisites to make university include students to sign an honor code pledging not to drink, smoke, or engage in premarital sexual activities.
What is Oral Roberts’ mascot?
Oral Roberts athletes — whose primary colors are blue and gold — play as the Golden Eagles, a change made in 1993. Prior to that, Oral Roberts played as the Titans as part of a 1965 student body vote.
What league does Oral Roberts play in?
Oral Roberts currently plays out of the Summit League, which has been its home since the 2014-15 season. Prior to that, the Golden Eagles played in the Southland for two seasons from 2013-15. The Golden Eagles’ longest continuous stint with a league was with the Mid-Continent Conference, in which it played for 10 years from 1997 through 2007; the Mid-Continent Conference later rebranded as the Summit League in 2007.
Oral Roberts has also played out of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference — now the Horizon League — from 1979 through 1987. It has had three stints as an independent. The first was from 1971 through ’79; the second from 1987 through ’89; the third from 1993 through ’97.
Who is Oral Roberts’ coach?
Oral Roberts is coached by Paul Mills, in his fourth year leading the Golden Eagles program. Prior to that, he was head coach at North Belt Christian Academy (1996-99) and Fort Bend Baptist Academy (1999-2002) and an assistant at Baylor (2003-17).
Mills is 55-65 through four seasons at Oral Roberts, never finishing better than fourth in the Summit League standings. Below is Oral Roberts’ year-by-year record under Mills:
|Year||Record (Summit League)||Summit League finish|
*Won Summit League Tournament
Oral Roberts 2020-21 season rundown
- 2020-21 record: 16-10 (10-5 Summit play)
- NET ranking: 158
- KenPom ranking: 152
As a member of the Summit League, Oral Roberts’ only entry point to the NCAA Tournament was through the Summit League Tournament. The Golden Eagles entered as a 4 seed by way of their 7-5 conference record, beating 5-seed North Dakota 76-75 in the quarterfinals, 1-seed South Dakota State 90-88 in the semifinals and 3-seed North Dakota State 75-72 in the final.
Oral Roberts is led offensively by 6-1, 165-pound sophomore guard Max Abmas, who averages 24.4 points per game on top of 3.2 assists per game and 3.7 rebounds per game. Junior forward Kevin Obanor (6-8, 225 pounds) averages 18.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game and 1.2 assists per game. RJ Glasper, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior, is the last player to average more than 10 points per game: He averages 11 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and two assists per game.
Oral Roberts NCAA Tournament history
Oral Roberts has made the NCAA Tournament a total of five times prior to 2021. The Golden Eagles have had limited success in March Madness, however, winning their only tournament games prior to the 1985 expansion; that came when the team made the 1974 regional final in only the team’s third year as a Division I program (and 11th year since it was originally chartered).
Below is a rundown of the Golden Eagles’ NCAA Tournament history:
|1974||Regional final||93-90 overtime loss to Kansas|
|1984||First round||92-83 loss to Memphis|
|2006||First round||94-78 loss to Memphis|
|2007||First round||70-54 loss to Washington State|
|2008||First round||82-63 loss to Pitt|
|2021||First round||vs. Ohio State|