The 25th matchup between the two schools will cap the quarterfinal round of the conference tourney this evening with the tip expected a little past 10 PM (ET). ESPN3 has the broadcast and Missouri is favored by 9 on the just-released college basketball odds which also include a 131.5 point total.
Missouri has the edge in just about every statistical category imaginable, save for points allowed. Of course, Mizzou had those same advantages when the squads met on Feb. 7, and as we've all learned, stats don't always mean much when you're talking about a bunch of 20-year-olds playing on a neutral court.
Mizzou Needs Strong Showing In Conference Tourney
Missouri was expected to contend for the SEC crown, as most preseason polls put the Tigers right in the thick of the race with Kentucky and Florida. Early on, those predictions appeared spot-on as Mizzou climbed to seventh in the AP Poll just before Christmas.
That is when things started to go south for Frank Haith's troops, and it was a loss to the Aggies that dropped the Tigers from each of the two rankings. Missouri never has been able to find any consistency on both ends of the court, and though the Tigers should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament starting next week, Haith would still like to see his team put together a strong run this weekend in Nashville to regain some of the confidence the club had earlier.
To say the Tigers have run hot-&-cold over the course of their schedule would be an understatement. There have been games that it seemed Missouri couldn't miss, such as strong wins and covers vs. Vanderbilt in January, at South Carolina at the end of February and just last week vs. Arkansas. But there have also been horrible efforts along the way, including the regular season finale at Tennessee this past Sunday.
Favored by 1.5 and with an opportunity to earn byes into the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, Mizzou fell 64-62 to the Vols in Knoxville. One of the top rebounding clubs in the conference, the Tigers were dominated on the glass by Tennessee who recorded 17 offensive boards to make up for its own poor shooting. Missouri also connected on just 4-of-17 from long range, well below what the Tigers were shooting entering the match (34.2%).
For more SEC action, take a look at my NCAA Basketball Picks: Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt article.
Aggies Eye Upset To Continue Recent Dominance In Series
Inconsistency has also plagued the Aggies, thought not near as much was expected from Billy Kennedy's crew this year as was expected from the Tigers. Texas A&M did manage to pick up a couple of big wins along the way, beating Kentucky on the road as 8-point underdogs and topping then-No. 21 Missouri in College Station as 4-point home dogs, but those were the only real highlights.
Beating Missouri probably wasn't much of an upset considering how the series has gone, and also given how inconsistent the Tigers have been. The Aggies have won nine of the last 11 vs. Mizzou, both losses coming during the final Big 12 season for the schools, and covered the spread in eight of those battles.
Another strong trend in this series has been the OVER which has cashed in 11 of the previous 13 meetings. The high side of the total was also a relatively easy winner last night when A&M scored a 71-62 win over Auburn in a game that closed with a 119.5 scoreboard hurdle. That's the way I'm going to place my NCAA Basketball picks in this one as well.
My pick: Missouri-Texas A&M Over 131.5Season: 42-33 ($5.70)