Florida State Seminoles (20-11) at Missouri Tigers (20-12)
What a great first day yesterday was in the NCAA tournament! We saw some big upsets, Arizona and Miami, I am looking at you, and saw several near upsets that could have made the day even crazier. Gonzaga, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Houston all got as much as they could handle and barely survived. It was a wild opening day of action with several last-second shots and tight games everywhere.
Today should prove to be more of the same as we have a full slate of games on the schedule. We picked up a win yesterday when we backed the Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This game almost turned into what would have been a really bad beat late.
The Lumberjacks led basically the entire game and led by seven points with ten minutes left to play in the second half. We were getting 11.5-points and it looked like we would cruise to the easy cover. But that signature Texas Tech defense, the best in the Big 12 this year, reared its ugly head and the Lumberjacks went ice cold down the stretch. SFA only scored three points in the games final four minutes and saw Tech not only steal the victory, they almost stole the cover.
In the end, we survived and covered as the Red Raiders took this game 70-60, but make no mistake, this was a very close game all afternoon long and we were absolutely on the right side of the bet. Nothing is ever easy in March! Today we look at the matchup between the Florida State Seminoles and the Missouri Tigers.
The Florida State Seminoles, an at-large selection from the ACC, will face off against the Missouri Tigers, and at-large selection from the SEC, in an eight-nine seed game. This is a first-round matchup in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Seminoles played in what is likely the nation’s best league this season, the ACC, and finished with a 9-9 record in league play.
The Tigers played in another very strong conference this year, the SEC, and were able to win ten games in SEC play this year. The Seminoles are -1.5-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 146.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:50 PM PST from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Missouri Tigers might be the hardest team to handicap in this entire tournament. Why you ask? Because the team that will be taking the floor tonight will look a lot different from the team that has been playing all year for the Tigers. Missouri will be without one of its best players in this game as forward Jordan Barnett will miss the game after getting suspended for a possible DUI violation last weekend.
Losing your second-leading scorer and rebounder the week before the NCAA tournament would be a devastating blow to most teams. But most teams don’t have the potential number one overall pick on their bench waiting in the wings. Michael Porter Jr. entered this season as the consensus number one prospect for next year’s NBA draft. However, the freshman phenom hurt his back in the Tigers first game and missed the entire season.
Porter came back to play in the SEC tournament and looked rusty, but very talented. Porter scored twelve points and brought down eight boards in the Missouri loss. Porter has been able to practice with the team for the last week, and it will be very interesting to see how well he plays in this game. He might just be the best player in the country.
Florida State managed to wade through the deep waters of the ACC this year to some reasonable success without really beating any really good teams. They did pick up a big win against the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels at home early in the season, but the rest of the teams’ league wins came against the bottom half of the league.
The bottom half of the ACC is still better than the top half of most leagues! The Seminoles beat NCAA tournament teams Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami, Florida, and Syracuse but weren’t able to break through against the elite of the ACC this year. The Seminoles lost to both Duke and Virginia handily.
This game is likely the biggest question mark of the first round. How will Missouri play with Barnett out and Porter Jr. in? Will Porter Jr. finally show us why he was the most hyped prospect in a freshman class that included monsters like DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Collin Sexton, and Trae Young? If I told you that the Tigers were adding Ayton or Bagley to their roster before this game what would that number look like? Missouri -6? Maybe even -8? Porter Jr. might be better than both of them.
I almost never bet on an uncertain situation like this one. There are so many questions that will need to be answered. But something tells me losing Barnett was exactly what the Tigers needed to get a boost. Taking out your power forward who did a serviceable, yet not spectacular job, all season long, and replacing him with a player that has the talent to completely change your team seems like the right move. It is almost as the Tigers wanted Barnett out of this game so they can let Porter Jr. lead the way.
I think Porter Jr. is something special and I expect him to show the entire country why in this game. The Tigers have almost no choice but to hand the ball to the phenom and let him do work, and that is the best thing for them.
This line opened at Florida State -2-point and has shifted towards the Tigers, and I will follow suit and back Missouri tonight. I expect Porter Jr. to be transcendent and the Tigers to win this one outright. I will, however, take the small insurance policy, just in case, and snatch up the point and a half.
Give me the Missouri Tigers +1.5 points tonight!