Men’s basketball preview: The Tigers welcome the hottest team in the SEC to Columbia

The Missouri Tigers (14-4, 3-3) get their only shot at Alabama on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide has emerged as the favorite to win the SEC title at this point in the season, and with good reason. They are 16-2 (6-0) and ranked fourth under fourth year head coach Nate Oates.

The Tide is led by Brandon Miller, who is said to be the best freshman in the country and a National Player of the Year candidate. They have looked dominant in every group match they have played thus far, winning by double digits in every competition.

The Tigers have lived on home cooking in SEC play thus far. They are 3-0 at home but 0-2 on the road in conference play, with notable shooting differences depending on where they play. Mizzou delivered an emotional 79-76 victory over Arkansas on Wednesday as they overcame a double-digit second half deficit.

Of course, this meeting will take place at Mizzou Arena, which is good news for Tiger fans.

A win over Alabama would easily become the highlight of Missouri’s NCAA tournament resume, but getting such a win would certainly be a tall order. Dennis Gates called Alabama the best team in the country after the Arkansas game, and many analysts agree.


Game information

when: Saturday 21st January

where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Missouri

time: 5:00 PM CST

television: SEC Network

KenPom Win Chance: 27%


appetizers

Missouri

PG: Nick Honor (Grad)

SG: De Moy Hodge (grad)

sixth: Tree Jomillion (locust)

PF: Kobe Brown (SR)

A: Ronnie DeGray III (Junior)

key depth: DeAndre Gholston (SG, Grad), Sean East II (PG, SR), Isiaih Mosley (SG, SR)

Alabama

PG: Mark Sears (Jr.)

SG: Jaden Bradley (France)

sixth: Brandon Miller (France)

PF: Noah Clooney (France)

A: Charles Pediaco (SOPH)

key depth: Noah Gurley (San Francisco, SR), Rylan Griffin (SG, France), Jahvon Quinerly (Page, SR)

* These starters are predicted based on previous squads and pre-game updates.


Syndicate: Tennessee

George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA Today Network

Get to know Alabama

The Oatmeal collection has definitely been one of the biggest surprises of the season so far. They started 10-2 in non-conference play with wins over Michigan State, North Carolina, Houston, and Memphis to their name.

Alabama began SEC play with dominant wins over Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, and Vanderbilt, none of which were in the single digits.

To no one’s surprise, there is a lot Alabama is doing right. According to KenPom, the Tide ranks 12th in offensive modified efficiency and 6th in defensive efficiency.

On defense, Alabama forces opponents to shoot 27.3% from behind the arc and 41.4% from inside, both of which rank in the top ten nationally. They also block 12% of the opposition’s shots.

The Crimson Tide is almost as effective in attack. A barrage of 3-point shooters and athletic wingers allow them to play freely and quickly. They have an effective field goal percentage of 52.8% (70th in the country), but they get a lot of shooting to make up for it.

The majority of that shot comes from three-point territory, as they shoot 46.9% of their shots from there, despite shooting with a modest 35% clip.

Their only weakness? shifts. Alabama commits a turnover on 16.1% of their possessions and only forces one turnover on 19.9% ​​of the possessions. Both of those spots are third in the standings, and when teams have been able to hold their own, it’s because of turnover margin.

Brandon Miller got most of the national attention on this team, and rightfully so. The 6’9″ freshman forward from Antioch, Tennessee is quickly moving up the draft boards, averaging 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He is one of the most agile and efficient scorers in the country, shooting over 46% from the field and behind the arc despite his 6’9″ frame. Expect to see a lot of Miller out there at Alabama, and to see a lot of shots leave his hands.

Miller has overshadowed a lot of the other skilled players on this team. Junior guard Mark Sears averages 14.5 points per game and exploded his season-high 26 against Arkansas last week. He’s generally a shooter by volume (much like Miller), but he makes shots with a 43% clip.

Freshman forward Noah Clowney at 6’10” has emerged as a reliable scorer in conference play, averaging 9.5 points per game. Clowney can stretch his defense with his ability to shoot from the perimeter sometimes, but he really makes his mark on the glass, averaging 8.2 rebounds per game. Noah’s colleague, this time Noah Gourley, is generally spelled Clooney and plays a similar role.

Jaden Bradley completes a trio of talented freshmen on this Alabama team. The guard from Rochester, New York, leads the team with 3.8 assists per game. Rylan Griffen and Jahvon Quinerly provide quality backcourt depth.

And just when it looked like Alabama couldn’t have more brutal players, they threw 7’0″ center Charles Pediaco at you. Bediako has seen his minutes increase as the season has gone on, and he earned those minutes from his ability to block shots (1.9 per game).


3 game keys

  1. Slow down Brandon Miller

Yes, easier said than done. Not many teams have been able to do this. Just ask Gonzaga, who gave up a season-high 36 to Miller. Or LSU and Vandy, who both lost 30+ each.

Miller’s size and skill make him a tough guard for anyone, but specifically the Missouri junior team. The Tigers will have to throw a lot of bodies and different looks at Miller throughout the game to keep him on his toes. In the best case scenario, Mizzou forces him to start a cold from the ground and has him sting all night. With an effective shooter like Miller, getting him uncomfortable is key, because another 30-point Miller performance will spell doom for the Tigers.

Perhaps the trademark area is what gets him off his game?

2. Compete with the size of Alabama

Another game, another size that doesn’t match Missouri. The Tigers have faced this uphill climb all season, but it might not get any worse. Alabama throws multiple 6’9″ plus athletes at their opponents and challenges them to deal with them in some way.

Miller has already been discussed and containing it would be a challenge in itself. However, Bediako, Clowney and Gurley also present problems, particularly with how they attack the glass and change up opponent shots.

It could be a tough outing for guys who want to get close to the basket (Brown, Goulston, Moseley, East 2) unless Gates can find a way to get trees out of the paint.

3. Continue to engage Mosley and Diarra

The roof of this team went up dramatically when Isiah Moseley and Mohamed Diarra saw the floor against Arkansas and played good minutes. Each seemed as active and engaged as he has all season, and with the way the team and the Gates talked about Diarra after the game, it seems he has recently become one of the best players on the team in practice.

So maybe the temporary loss of Noah Carter was a blessing in disguise. Mosley and Diarra only provide more depth to this team, but they each provide different qualities. Mosley gives the Tigers an element of play-making, as he can create his own snaps and find teammates. Sean East II is the only other player in a similar role at the moment. However, against Arkansas, Mosley’s defense really showed when he was making charges and stealing.

For Diarra, he fills the real “big” void on this list. He’s athletic and quick for his size, and his ability to shoot from the perimeter can at least keep defenses honest. If he could step in and spell Carter/Brown during games, it would partially eliminate one of the biggest weaknesses on this team.

In front of Bama, we’ll see how much each of these two things see the Earth. Regardless, their development hinges on whether they can continue to produce positive effects.


NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Missouri

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

prediction game

My expectations: Alabama 92 | Missouri 81

KenPom Prediction: Alabama 87 | Missouri 80

This is a long, long request. Alabama had already gone into hostile environments against Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt and came out on top. The sold-out Mizu Arena, while noisy, won’t bother them.

So, with the home court advantage largely left out, let’s take a look at the game itself. The Crimson Tide has a clear size advantage, which has been kryptonite for the Tigers all this season. Miller, Clowney, and Bediako will get easy buckets down, change shots, and grab tons of rebounds. We have to accept this. The good news is that Arkansas has recovered from the Tigers by 19 and is still losing, so it’s not “the end of it all” if Mizu gets fleshed out on the glass.

What Missouri can do to make up for that (which it didn’t do against TAMU, Florida, or Arkansas), is hit the ball at a high clip. The old saying is that the three-point shot is the ultimate tying goal in college basketball. Well, the Tigers need it to be Saturday only. Hodge, Carter, Honor, Moseley, and Goulston must let it fly from the depths early and often in this game.

After such an emotional win, it will be interesting to see how the team responds on Saturday. The Arkansas game was very physical and exciting, so we’ll have to see how fresh the team looks. Meanwhile, we’ll have to see if they can improve shooting after a long cold streak, especially from depths.

While the Tigers are certainly capable of winning this game, Alabama looks like a Final Four team right now thanks to their size and talent level. The Crimson Tide would be able to overwhelm this Missouri team and force them to play exclusively from the perimeter on their way to another road win in the SEC.

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