NCAA Basketball Odds: Norfolk State Spartans vs Missouri Tigers
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
by Mike Stewart
Denied a No. 1 seed despite winning the Big 12 tournament and sent to the West region rather than playing in the Midwest region in nearby St. Louis, second seeded Missouri Tigers opens its quest for its first trip to the Final Four against MEAC tournament champion Norfolk State Spartans in Omaha, Neb.
The Spartans, meanwhile, have already reached a milestone by making the NCAA tournament field for the first time.
Missouri is in the tournament for the fourth consecutive year and the 25th overall but has never advanced past the Elite Eight. It will mark the first meeting between the teams.
Missouri Tigers (30-4): The Tigers breezed through the Big 12 tournament, winning their three games by an average of more than 17 points to claim their second conference tournament title in four years. After their last title in 2009, the Tigers made a run to the Elite Eight as a No. 3 seed. This year's bracket sets up well for another potential run. The leaders of this year's team — seniors Marcus Denmon (17.6 ppg) and Kim English (14.9 ppg) — were part of that 2009 team, and now have quite a supporting cast. Three more players — senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, junior guard Michael Dixon Jr. and sophomore guard Phil Pressey — also average double-digit scoring. Pressey's 215 assists already have obliterated the single-season school record, and with 73 steals, he needs only three more to tie the school record.
Norfolk State Spartans (25-9): The Spartans have won seven straight and nine of 10, including a 73-70 win over Bethune-Cookman in the MEAC tournament final. They finished second in the MEAC in the regular season. The Spartans will have a tough time matching up with the Tigers' ultra-quick guards, but 6-foot-10 center Kyle OQuinn presents a matchup problem for the Tigers, too. O'Quinn, the most outstanding player of the MEAC tournament, leads Norfolk State with 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, and his post game could spell trouble for the Tigers, who have only two players 6-foot-8 or taller who get significant playing time. The Spartans also get offensive production out of the backcourt duo of Chris McEachin (12.8 ppg) and Pendarvis Williams (11.8 ppg).
NCAA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Tigers 85,Spartans 60.
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