The NCAA tournament Missouri vs Oklahoma matchup should be a good one. It’s a battle of 8 and 9 seeds, both who were great at times during the regular season but have also slipped up a bit down the stretch. They’ve each played in tough conferences too, with the SEC sending six teams to the tournament while the Big 12 had seven squads qualify.
15-10 Oklahoma opened as a -2 favorite, but news of their second leading scorer being out due to COVID testing has shifted the line to Mizzu -1. It’s still saying something that the Sooners aren’t bigger underdogs without the services of De’Vion Harmon, who averaged 13.0 ppg.
Hard to Back Inconsistent Missouri
The NCAA tournament Missouri vs Oklahoma game might as well be called the Forrest Gump Bowl, because you never know what you’re gonna get with either of these teams. Take Mizzu for example, at one point this year they were 13-3, climbing all the way to #10 on February 8th. Since then the Tigers have gone 3-6 however.
Teams who have tournament success usually surge into the postseason, not back in based on a padded win column from earlier in the year. That makes it hard to like the Tigers here. Their three wins came against South Carolina and Georgia (two mid-tier SEC teams) as well as an admittedly impressive 72-70 win over Florida in Gainesville as +4 underdogs.
One thing Missouri should probably shore up if they want to go on a big tournament run is their defense. The Tigers gave up 78+ points in 4 of their 6 losses down the stretch, and allowed 74.1 ppg during the regular season. The Tigers are 55th in the country in defensive efficiency, and their offense (50th) isn’t good enough to overcome that.
Shorthanded Sooners In Trouble?
The loss of Harmon to a positive COVID test is pretty significant. He had 18 points to help lead the win over Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament and had knocked in at least a dozen in 7 of the last 10. Luckily for OU, Austin Reaves is playing great basketball right now, scoring 19+ in 8 of the last 10.
With Harmon out though, Reaves doesn’t get a lot of help in trying to keep up with Mizzu’s duo of Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson, who both average over 14 ppg. Brady Manek has been better as of late for the Sooners with 13+ in three of the last four, but he’s very hit or miss scoring in single digits in 4 of the last 7.
We should also talk about Oklahoma’s play down the stretch. The Sooners had surged all the way up to 7th in the nation on February 22nd, but have proceeded to drop four straight to wind down the regular season, struggle with horrendously bad ISU in the Big 12 tournament, and then ultimately were put out of their misery with a 62-69 loss to Kansas. That is not great momentum.
Free NCAA Tournament Missouri vs Oklahoma Pick
It’s is a bit strange that the line hasn’t moved further Missouri’s way with the news of Harmon being out, which does raise some issues. With how bad the Sooners have played down the stretch, and their offense being very reliant on getting hot on the perimeter, the value looks to be on Mizzu here.
Missouri 71 – Oklahoma 66
Pick: Missouri -1