LEXINGTON, Ken. (KSDK Sports) - The Missouri Tigers look for redemption in this season's NCAA Tournament as they take on the eighth-seeded Colorado State Rams in the second round of the Midwest Regional at Rupp Arena.
Missouri has been a one-and-done team in the Big Dance in each of the past two seasons. The Tigers came into last season's NCAA Tournament with high hopes as a No. 2 seed only to be upset by Norfolk State in their first game. Frank Haith's squad was not quite as impressive during the regular season this year, its first in the SEC, as it finished 23-10 overall. However, Missouri did finish 5-5 versus teams in the field.
Colorado State had its three-game winning streak snapped in the Mountain West Tournament as it dropped a 75-65 decision to UNLV. Dorian Green attempted to return from an ankle injury but was limited to 18 minutes in the setback. Colton Iverson paced the team with 24 points and 16 rebounds. The Rams have to battle history as they enter the NCAA Tournament with an unimpressive 3-10 record.
This matchup in the NCAA Tournament's second round marks just the second in the series between Colorado State and Missouri. The series is knotted, 1-1. The series has been idle since the 1969 season. The winner of this game will advance to take on the victor of the Louisville-North Carolina A&T matchup.
The Tigers earned an at-large bid into the field after being defeated, 64-62, by Ole Miss in the SEC quarterfinals, as Derrick Millinghaus made a driving basket in the closing seconds. The loss came despite a stellar performance from Alex Oriakhi, who went 7-of-7 from the floor en route to 16 points and nine boards. Oriakhi is going to be vital for Mizzou's hopes at a run as he will be ale to provide leadership having won an NCAA Tournament while at Connecticut. Laurence Bowers paces a group of six double-digit scorers for the Tigers with 14.4 ppg, but he tallied just 19 total points over his last two outings. Phil Pressey is an important player for Missouri with averages of 11.6 points and 7.1 assists per tilt.
After his strong showing for the Rams in the MWC semifinals, Iverson remains the leading scorer for the program with his 14.7 ppg, as his 59.9 percent shooting from the floor is unrivaled. Iverson is also first with 9.8 rpg for the Rams, but not that far behind is Pierce Hornung (8.9 ppg), who is responsible for 9.2 rpg as the team is fourth in the nation with 40.4 boards per tilt. Green's return to full health will be vital as he contributes 12.8 points and 3.8 assists per game.
This matchup will rely on a couple of factors. Oriakhi will need to step up his defensive play to counteract Iverson in the paint and keep Missouri from falling behind. A healthy Green is almost a necessity for the Rams, who will have very few answers for Pressey otherwise.