MISSOURI TIGERS (23-10)
vs. COLORADO STATE RAMS (25-8)
NCAA Tournament – Second Round
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:20 p.m. ET
Line: Missouri -3, Total: 142.5
Missouri looks to put last year’s stunning upset to 15th-seeded Norfolk State to rest when it faces Colorado State in an NCAA Tournament 8-9 game on Thursday night.
The ninth-seeded Tigers didn’t match the 30 wins they put up entering the tournament a year ago, but they’re still a well-balanced veteran team. They have dropped two of their past three, SU, despite being favored each time, and were just 6-10 SU away from home on the season. And while Colorado State enters having won three of four SU, the Rams have failed to cover in their past three games and have lost five in a row SU (1-4 ATS) as an underdog.
Can Missouri erase the sting of last year's loss on Thursday? For the answer, connect to 2013 NCAA Tourney Picks for all the Expert picks throughout the entire tournament. The four StatFox experts begin the NCAA Tournament on quite a roll, going a collective 75% ATS (35-12-1) in the season's final four days and 67% ATS (67-33-2) since March 9, with StatFox Gary going 75% ATS (12-4), StatFox Brian posting a 68% ATS mark (19-9-1), StatFox Dave also at 68% ATS (17-8) and StatFox Scott winning 61% ATS (19-12-1) in those final nine days. Gary has a 68% ATS record (23-11) since Feb. 27 to improve to 56.1% ATS (110-86-4) for the entire college basketball season.
Missouri couldn’t quite duplicate last season's success despite a move from the Big 12 to the weaker SEC. After shooting 39.8% behind the arc a year ago, the team shot just 34.0% this season. And after featuring a deep rotation of scorers on the perimeter in 2011-12, they couldn’t find a consistent outside threat this season. PG Phil Pressey (11.6 PPG, 7.1 APG) has struggled to shoot all year (37.6% FG, 31.6% threes), especially on the road (36.1% FG, 27.5% threes). The Tigers did feature a more conventional frontcourt this season though, with PF Laurence Bowers (14.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) coming off a redshirt year and C Alex Oriakhi (11.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG) transferring from Connecticut. Slashing wing Keion Bell (11.1 PPG, 52.8% FG), a transfer from Pepperdine, had some moments in February (five 20-point performances in nine games that month) but really cooled off since then, going for a total of seven points on 2-for-10 FG and 0-for-5 from three over two SEC Tournament games. And head coach Frank Haith has just one NCAA Tournament win in his eight seasons as a head coach with both Missouri and Miami-FL.
Colorado State is arguably the best rebounding team in the tournament, finishing second in the nation in offensive rebounding rate and first in keeping opponents off the offensive glass. Unlike a lot of mid-major programs, the Rams have an elite big man in Colton Iverson (14.7 PPG on 60% FG, 9.8 RPG), a 6-foot-10, 260-pound transfer from Minnesota who had 24 points and 16 boards in the Mountain West Tournament semifinal loss at UNLV. The Rams are efficient offensively thanks to the second chance points, but like Missouri CSU doesn’t shoot well from the perimeter, hitting just 33.2% of its threes on the season. Senior combo guard Wes Eikmeier (12.7 PPG) led the team in shot attempts for a second straight season, but made just 37.6% FG. He managed to get to the line with regularity over his past three games, where he’s an excellent free-throw shooter (90.2% on the season, 21-for-22 in past 3 games). That allowed him to score 17.0 PPG despite making just 31.7% FG.