College Basketball Pick: Kansas vs Missouri
NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
This border battle is always extremely heated, and with both teams ranked in the top ten this year’s version should be better than ever. Kansas is 18-4 overall, but they have lost just once in Big 12 Conference play. Missouri is 20-2 and 7-2 in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks will face an extremely rowdy crowd in Missouri this weekend. The Tigers are 13-0 at home so far this season. Expect a great game between two heated rivals.
Thomas Robinson has been the best player in the country so far this year. It is clear that having Danny Manning around to teach him has helped his game in a big way. Robinson averages 17.6 points and 12 boards per game so far this year. Free throw shooting has always been a major problem for him, but he has upped his percentage from 51% last year to 67% this year. Tyshawn Taylor is the leader in the backcourt. Taylor averages 16.7 points per game, and he is knocking down 44.3% of his three-point shots. Taylor has also racked up 116 assists already this year.
Travis Reliford is a “glue guy” for the Jayhawks. He is a guy who does whatever this team needs him to do, and he comes up with big shots when the team needs them the most. Jeff Withey is a tremendous shot blocker at the center spot. Withey has 68 blocks already this year, and he is constantly altering shots. Kansas is a strong rebounding team on both sides of the floor. The Jayhawks allow opponents to shoot just 37.7% from the floor.
Many people expected Missouri to take a step backward when Mike Anderson left. To this point in the season, the Tigers have only moved forward. Frank Haith has allowed this team to continue using their athleticism to speed the tempo up, but the single biggest improvement he has made to this team is their half court defense. In the past few years Missouri has forced a lot of turnovers, but they have also allowed opponents to get a lot of open looks in the half court. So far this year they have been able to keep forcing turnovers while cutting down on open looks that their opponents get.
Offensively, Missouri has several guys who are very dangerous. Marcus Denmon leads the team by averaging 17.1 points per game. Kim English averages 14.1 points per game, and he is shooting an amazing 50% from beyond the arc. Michael Dixon has become a much more consistent offensive threat this year as well. Phil Pressey is a play maker, and he is one of the leaders in the country in assists with 133 so far this season. Ricardo Ratcliffe is the Tigers low-post scorer, but they are a bit thin in the frontcourt overall. Missouri averages 81.2 points per contest.
Missouri will be looking to prove a point in this one, and I think they’ll force the Jayhawks into a very fast paced game. Expect Missouri to come out on top in front of their home faithful.
Prediction: Missouri 81 Kansas 73
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