As March Madness continues to heat up, the Missouri Tigers will take on the Princeton Tigers in Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament. Missouri enters the game as 6.5-point favorites (-110 Bovada), but will they be able to cover the spread against a scrappy Princeton squad? Here’s a breakdown of both teams and what to expect from this matchup.
Missouri’s High-Powered Offense
Missouri boasts the ninth-best offense in the country according to KenPom, and for good reason. They shoot a blazing 56% from 2-point range and knock down 36.2% of their shots from beyond the arc. Led by Kobe Brown and D’Moi Hodge, the Tigers have the ability to take over games with their scoring prowess. However, their defense is a major concern. Missouri is 159th in adjusted defensive efficiency and ranks outside the Top 250 in opponent 2-point percentage. Additionally, the Tigers are terrible on the glass and rank just 359th in rebound rate.
Princeton’s Upset Bid
Princeton comes into this game with a 5-0 straight up and against the spread record over their last five games. Their best player, Tosan Evbuomwan, averages 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 52.7% from the floor. Guards Ryan Langborg and Matt Allocco also contribute double-digit scoring. Princeton’s defense is stout, ranking 24th in rebound rate and 49th in 2-point percentage. However, their offense is not as potent, ranking 179th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Princeton’s win over Arizona in Round 1 was impressive, but it was also aided by a collapse from the Wildcats. Missouri presents a different challenge for the Ivy League champions. The Tigers have a guard-heavy lineup that can shoot from anywhere on the floor and have the best turnover margin (+5.9) in the country. This means that Princeton will not be able to rely on the same tactics they used against Arizona, such as clogging the paint and daring the opponent to shoot from the perimeter. Additionally, Missouri’s guard play will likely result in better shooting from beyond the arc than Arizona displayed.
While Princeton’s defense is solid, their offense may struggle against Missouri’s subpar defense. Additionally, Missouri’s size and athleticism could give Princeton problems on the glass, an area where they typically excel.
All things considered, it’s hard to see Princeton pulling off another upset against Missouri. The Tigers’ high-powered offense and superior guard play should be too much for Princeton to handle. While Princeton’s defense may keep them in the game for a while, Missouri’s scoring ability should eventually lead to a comfortable win and a cover of the 6.5-point spread.
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