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Missouri at Kansas
Kansas figured to be in a two-team horse race to win the Big 12 title this year with Texas A&M, and the early returns suggest that will be the case. At the same time, Missouri changed coaches, and Mike Anderson, who loves to run and press, wasn't sure he'd have the right mix of players to win immediately, so he asked for patience from the Tiger faithful. Thus far his thoughts have been right on the mark with an 0-3 conference start.
Kansas is in the midst of arguably their toughest part of schedule for the regular season, off demolition of Oklahoma State, hard fought overtime win at Iowa State and road game on tap at Texas Tech. The Jayhawks have a multitude of young and extremely talented player and Brandon Rush showed why he might be the best of the lot. Off blowout of Cowboys, Kansas figured to be somewhat flatter against Iowa State, who is always hard to beat at home. Rush did not have a great offensive game, yet still made clutch baskets in the last two minutes and in overtime. More importantly coach Bill Self put him on Iowa State's Mike Taylor who was having a brilliant game, and Rush contributed to him missing his last seven shots.
Coach Anderson did not come into Columbia with illusions of grandeur, he knew his style of play was not for everyone and to implement it with the players on hand may not be easy. In order to run and press effectively, you must be able to rebound since as the old saying goes, possession is more than just eight tenths of the law. Missouri was out-rebounded 41-17 in loss to Kansas State and has been whipped on the glass by 15 boards a game in Big 12 play. Hard to manufacture fast paced offense if you can't run.
With this major inadequacy, the Tigers are decided underdogs at Allen Field House. Kansas is a 15-point favorite according to Sportsbook.com. The problem for Missouri trying to play this style of basketball is that it fits right into the aggressive nature of Kansas. The Jayhawks will not be contented to just go break the Tigers press; they will go right to the rim for layups and dunks.
For Missouri a slight alteration in scheme would make sense. Continue to press Kansas, just make them play more halfcourt basketball. The Tigers do a good job in dropping the three ball, at 40.1% on the season. (Though 33.9% in road games) If they can make the Jayhawks run their offense primarily the halfcourt they could have a chance. Missouri is 6-2 ATS when an underdog of 13 or more points.
In this Border War conflict, it is hard to imagine Kansas won't lay the wood to Misso. They have much better athletes, out-rebound the opposition by seven a game and the Tigers are just 1-8 ATS versus good offensive teams - scoring 77+ points a game.
College Basketball Betting Odds page might show movement on this contest, with sharps and public on either side of this one.
About the Author: Bob is an experienced sports writer and handicapper who has written for the sports industry for over a decade. He has been a regular contributer to Sports Scene, a sports consultant for television's 33 Made and other major motion pictures.