The first SEC team takes part in NCAA tournament play when the No. 9 seeded Missouri Tigers take on the No. 8 seeded Colorado State Rams. This is one of the very few match-ups in the NCAA tournament where the higher seeded team is considered the favorite.
Missouri has a greater talent level than some of the best teams in the country, but sometimes they don’t play together. The Tigers have a preseason All-American, Phil Pressey, a player who has won the national championship before, Alex Oriakhi, and a surprise star in the injury-prone Laurence Bowers. Missouri has all the pieces to make a Final Four run, but the Tigers have very little depth and one injury would devastate this entire team. Frank Haith has to keep this team playing as one cohesive unit if they want o advance to the round of 32.
Colorado State has stayed under the radar for most of the season. Senior Forward Colton Iverson is one of the best all-around big men in the entire country and is nearly averaging a double-double on the season. In Missouri’s SEC tournament loss to Ole Miss, the Tigers lost mostly due to the play of Murphy Holloway – a player similarly built to Iverson, but not as talented. If the Rams want to pull off the victory, they must play to their strengths and not let Missouri dictate the pace of the game.
Colorado State would have made a decent run in the NCAA tournament, if they didn’t get placed with Missouri in the first round. The Tigers are far too talented and, barring a breakdown, should win this game behind Pressey, Oriakhi, and Bowers.