Missouri is -3 point favorite going into Thursday's match up against Colorado State

In what may be a very entertaining contest, we have a matchup of 2 teams that can defend as well as put the ball in the basket. Missouri certainly has players with more national recognition such as Phil Pressey, Laurence Bowers, and UCONN transfer Alex Oriakhi. Pressey is a veteran who gets his teammates involved and is not afraid to take the big shot. He will be relied upon heavily and is likely to go the distance unless he is in foul trouble. Bowers is a combination player who can hurt you from the outside as well as score on the interior. He is not a strong rebounder for his size but can defend virtually any position and has plenty of tournament experience.

The key will likely be Oriakhi who has an NCAA tournament championship already under his belt and can be a force on both backboards. He is the center of their defense and has shown an improved offensive game this season. Coach Frank Haith is a proven winner and has shown an ability to adjust to his personnel over the years. The Rams of Colorado State are as close to a “one man show” as you are going to see in the tournament as their leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker is Minnesota transfer Colton Iverson who is an interior beast on both the offensive and defensive backboards. He gets to the foul line and can make the 15 foot jumpshot. They also have Dorian Green who is a strong passer with a pass first mentality who is often the player left open when Iverson is double teamed. Wes Eikmeier is a threat from the outside and can create plays for his teammates.

The most intriguing player is Pierce Hornung who not only averages almost 10 rebounds a game but is the grandson of the legendary Paul Hornung which certainly gives Colorado St the advantage as far as lineage. They also have a coach with a lot of success at a previous stop in Larry Eustachy who hopefully will avoid being photographed at any dorm room parties prior to tip off.

Colorado State is making the tournament for the second consecutive time in over 20 years while Missouri is trying to avoid its third consecutive “one and done” in the NCAA tournament including a loss as a number two seed in last year. Both teams are strong on the interior and defend the paint extremely well. It may come down to who can make their free throws as well as connect from the outside in deciding a winner in this contest. The bottom line is both teams are rather evenly matched and play similarly. It is likely that the team that gets off to a good start from the beginning will win the game as neither team is particularly good at playing from behind. In this case of evenly matched teams I am going to go with Colorado State. Take the Rams + 3. Unless of course Coach Eustachy gets into any problems between now and gametime!

Ray's Free Pick: Take Colorado State +3

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