Record: 23-10 overall, 11-7 in SEC
Seed: 9-seed in Midwest Region
Coach: Frank Haith, second season, second NCAA tournament appearance
Last NCAA appearance: Lost to 15-seed Norfolk State in first round (2012)
Notable wins: Florida, VCU, Illinois, Ole Miss
Its been an erratic season for the Tigers veteran point guard, Phil Pressey, the SEC preseason Player Of the Year, who was asked to take over a team filled with recruits and Division I transfers. Pressey led the conference in assists at 6.7 per game but he also averaged 6.4 turnovers against ranked opponents and he saw his field goal (38.7) and three-point (36.1) percentages drop from last season (42.8 and 38.7, respectively). But as goes Pressey, so goes the Tigers. If he can improve his shot selection, he has the ability to get Missouri past the second round for the first time since 2009.
The 6-foot-9, 255-pound Alex Oriakhi is averaging 11.1 points per game, ranks as the Tigers top rebounder (8.6 per game) and is a load on defense with the strength to muscle up in the paint and a 7-foot-3 wingspan that allows him to contest shots (1.6 per game). He is without question a major presence inside for the Tigers, but Oriakhis biggest asset may be his experience in March. While Pressey and Laurence Bowers have played in the NCAAs for the Tigers, neither can match Oriakhis resume in this tourney: he made two trips with UConn before transferring after last season, including their 2011 title run.
The Colorado State Rams (25-8, 11-5 MWC) are making consecutive tourney appearances for the first time since 1989-90 and pose a touch matchup for the Tigers inside. While Missouri is second in the nation, averaging 45 rebounds per game, it cant match Colorado States duo of 6-10 center Colton Iverson, who averaged 9.8 boards per game to go along with 14.7 points, while 6-5 forward Pierce Hornung is grabbing 9.2 boards per, 45.4 percent of which come on the offensive glass. While the Rams were shaky down the stretch, dropping four of their last eight, seven of their eight losses were against NCAA tourney teams.
Did You Know
The Tigers are the only team major-conference team that has had six players average double digits in scoring with Pressey, Oriakhi, Bowers (14.4), Jabari Brown (13.7), Keion Bell (11.1) and Earnest Ross (10.3).