Opinion: Oral Roberts dances way into Sweet 16, history books – despite what handbook says

INDIANAPOLIS — The code of conduct at Oral Roberts University acknowledges that opinions vary among Christians about dancing.

“However,” the handbook states, “the following official University policy has been established: social dancing is not permitted on campus.”

But several hundred miles away from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, campus whose landmark is a 60-foot high pair of praying hands, its basketball team is dancing like it has never danced before, dancing right into next week’s Sweet 16 and very much the Cinderella story of the biggest dance of all. 

Oral Roberts, a school of 2,800 undergrads founded by one of America’s first televangelists whose basketball program is best known for launching Bill Self’s head coaching career, became just the second No. 15 seed ever in the men’s NCAA Tournament to reach the second weekend. To do it, the Golden Eagles took down Ohio State and Florida, two of the true behemoths in college athletics, clawing their way to a pair of three-point wins. 

For a team that was the No. 4 seed in the Summit League tournament a couple weeks ago, that isn’t just improbable — it’s a longshot so incalculable it would only register above zero because this is a tournament crazy enough that it can happen every now and then. 

“Honest to goodness I told the guys all year that not only are we going to win the conference tournament, but we’re going to win multiple games in the NCAA,” Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills said. “We talk about winning in March way back in November. These are the things that have to happen in order to win in March, and there’s a graphic we show once a week: This is what it takes and there’s times in practice where one of them is taking care of the ball and I’ll ask, ‘Have you ever been to March Madness? Do you understand you can't make that turnover?’

“Now they’re going to have a response, so that’s pretty cool. That’s what you want.”

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