Which Likely NCAA Opponent Should Mizzou Be Hoping to Play?

Give me former Mizzou target Michael Snaer and the Seminoles.

With the NCAA Tournament draw right around the corner, it seems to be virtually unanimous that Mizzou is going to end up in either the 8-9 game or, barring interesting seeding, 7-10 game.  (Or, if the NCAA committee reads the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, either the 5-12 game or the first round of the NIT.)  So in advance of the Selection Sunday proceedings, let's take a look at who Mizzou should be hoping to face at some point on Thursday or Friday.

The following are the 16 teams listed as a 7-10 seed in either Lunardi's latest, Jerry Palm's latest, or my Friday morning bracket, who haven't already played Mizzou this year: Butler, Florida State, George Mason, Gonzaga, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, Temple, Tennessee, UCLA, UNLV, Utah State, Villanova, Washington, West Virginia and Xavier.  By looking into this, I'm all but clinching that Missouri won't play one of these teams, but let's use Ken Pomeroy's stats to gauge the potential matchups regardless.

(Remember as you are looking at these tables: the factors are listed in order, from most important to least.  That's how Mizzou can face major disadvantages in Off. Reb. % and FTA/FGA and still match up rather well in overall efficiency.)

Butler (KenPom Ranking: No. 54)

Butler Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

BU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 38 53 Push
Effective FG% 82 168 BU
Turnover % 21 9 Push
Off. Reb. % 186 313 BU Big
FTA/FGA 145 239 BU
MU Offense vs Butler Defense Ranks

MU Offense BU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28 76 MU
Effective FG% 58 151 MU
Turnover % 20 243 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170 11 BU Big
FTA/FGA 259 215 BU

Adj. Tempo: 278th, Off. 3PT%: 79th.

Butler plays slow and in control.  They're solid from beyond the arc, and they hold the same big rebounding advantages that most teams on this list do.  They do not turn the ball over a lot, and when combined with the slow tempo, that's not a combination I'm looking for.  Plus, there's that whole "They went to the NCAA Finals last year" thing.

Verdict: DO NOT WANT.

Florida State (No. 40)

FSU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

FSU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 151
53
MU
Effective FG% 172
168
Push
Turnover % 315
9
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 43
313
FSU Big
FTA/FGA 162
239
FSU
MU Offense vs FSU Defense Ranks

MU Offense FSU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
2
FSU
Effective FG% 58
2
FSU
Turnover % 20
63
MU
Off. Reb. % 170
108
FSU
FTA/FGA 259
139
FSU Big

Adj. Tempo: 59th, Off. 3PT%: 230th.

They play fast, turn the ball over a ton, and don't shoot the 3-pointer very well.  This is EXACTLY the combination I'm looking for.  FSU plays great defense and would hold the overall fouls advantage, but ... none of these teams is going to be a perfect overall combination -- they are NCAA Tournament quality teams, after all.  FSU contains the exact features I'm looking for.

Verdict: WANT.

George Mason (No. 25)

GMU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

GMU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 29
53
GMU
Effective FG% 21
168
GMU Big
Turnover % 15
9
Push
Off. Reb. % 156
313
GMU Big
FTA/FGA 132
239
GMU Big
MU Offense vs GMU Defense Ranks

MU Offense GMU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
44
MU
Effective FG% 58
41
GMU
Turnover % 20
128
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
98
GMU
FTA/FGA 259
58
GMU Big

Adj. Tempo: 218th, Off. 3PT%: 13th.

Like Butler, GMU plays slow and under control, and they shoot 3's MUCH better than the Bulldgos.  They have a thin bench (245th in Bench Minutes), which could come in handy, but they don't turn the ball over a lot and could be well-equipped to avoid vulnerability to the Fastest 40 Minutes.  They went 1-1 against common opponent Old Dominion.

Verdict: DO NOT WANT.

Gonzaga (No. 27)

GU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

GU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 49
53
Push
Effective FG% 37
168
GU Big
Turnover % 151
9
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 47
313
GU Big
FTA/FGA 77
239
GU Big
MU Offense vs GU Defense Ranks

MU Offense GU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
26
Push
Effective FG% 58
60
Push
Turnover % 20
99
MU
Off. Reb. % 170
54
GU Big
FTA/FGA 259
123
GU Big

Adj. Tempo: 115th, Off. 3PT%: 102nd.

Gonzaga holds large rebound and foul advantages, and they've got a reasonably deep bench, but I'll take my chances.  They turn the ball over a lot, are not amazing from long range, and they could get sucked into playing fast.  In terms of common opponents, they blew out Oklahoma State but lost to Illinois and got blown out by Kansas State.

Verdict: WANT.

Marquette (No. 33)

Marquette Offense vs Mizzou Defense Ranks

Marq. O
Mizzou D
Advantage
Efficiency 19
53
Marquette
Effective FG% 71
168
Marquette
Turnover % 42
9
Mizzou
Off. Reb. % 56
313
Marq. Big
FTA/FGA 36
239
Marq. Big
MU Offense vs x Defense Ranks

Mizzou O
Marq. D
Advantage
Efficiency 28
71
Mizzou
Effective FG% 58
217
Mizz. Big
Turnover % 20
137
Mizz. Big
Off. Reb. % 170
181
Push
FTA/FGA 259
27
Marq. Big

Adj. Tempo: 116th, Off. 3PT%: 125th.

The opportunity to hate on Buzz Williams some more?  YES, PLEASE.

Verdict: WANT.

Michigan (No. 41)

UM Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UM Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 45
53
Push
Effective FG% 46
168
UM Big
Turnover % 16
9
Push
Off. Reb. % 327
313
Push
FTA/FGA 336
239
MU??
MU Offense vs UM Defense Ranks

MU Offense UM Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
50
MU
Effective FG% 58
156
MU
Turnover % 20
252
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
66
UM
FTA/FGA 259
28
UM Big

Adj. Tempo: 323rd, Off. 3PT%: 106th.

They play sloooooow and shoot a ton of 3's, which could be a problem.  But they don't necessarily make a ton of 3's all the time, and they actually wouldn't hold extreme overall rebounding and foul advantages.  Their upside is relatively high, but I'd prefer them over others on this list.  Unfortunately, I'm seeing them as a 10-seed, max, so Mizzou probably won't face them unless they get a very favorable seed.

Verdict: WANT.

Michigan State (No. 37)

MSU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

MSU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 58
53
Push
Effective FG% 180
168
Push
Turnover % 177
9
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 63
313
MSU Big
FTA/FGA 193
239
MSU
MU Offense vs MSU Defense Ranks

MU Offense MSU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
34
Push
Effective FG% 58
109
MU
Turnover % 20
282
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
40
MSU Big
FTA/FGA 259
163
MSU

Adj. Tempo: 211th, Off. 3PT%: 158th.

They turn the ball over a ton and don't shoot 3's very well.  But they're Michigan State, they rebound pretty well, and facing them in the NCAA Tournament over the last decade+ doesn't typically end well for you.

Verdict: Not sure.

Temple (No. 38)

TU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

TU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 46
53
Push
Effective FG% 107
168
TU
Turnover % 13
9
Push
Off. Reb. % 147
313
TU Big
FTA/FGA 254
239
Push
MU Offense vs TU Defense Ranks

MU Offense TU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
37
Push
Effective FG% 58
47
Push
Turnover % 20
158
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
27
TU Big
FTA/FGA 259
10
TU Big

Adj. Tempo: 239th, Off. 3PT%: 97th.

Temple features that same "slow game plus few turnovers" game that I want Mizzou to avoid overall.  In terms of common opponents, they beat Georgetown at home, lost a tight one to A&M, and beat La Salle three times.  They're not particularly deep, and they're not amazing from long range ... outlook hazy on this one.

Verdict: Not sure.

Tennessee (No. 55)

UT Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UT Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 72
53
Push
Effective FG% 227
168
MU
Turnover % 132
9
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 12
313
UT Big
FTA/FGA 119
239
UT Big
MU Offense vs UT Defense Ranks

MU Offense UT Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
49
MU
Effective FG% 58
100
MU
Turnover % 20
117
MU
Off. Reb. % 170
125
UT
FTA/FGA 259
191
UT

Adj. Tempo: 152nd, Off. 3PT%: 315th.

They can be sucked into a high-tempo game, and they are terrible at 3-pointers.  The offensive rebounds are a concern, and with all the distractions they went through this year, they're clearly a rather mentally tough team.  But I'll take my chances.

Verdict: WANT.

UCLA

UCLA Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UCLA Off.
MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 88
53
MU
Effective FG% 106
168
UCLA
Turnover % 283
9
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 59
313
UCLA Big
FTA/FGA 55
239
UCLA Big
MU Offense vs UCLA Defense Ranks

MU Offense UCLA Def.
Advantage
Efficiency 28
35
Push
Effective FG% 58
45
Push
Turnover % 20
289
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
122
UCLA
FTA/FGA 259
74
UCLA Big

Adj. Tempo: 199th, Off. 3PT%: 248th.

The Bruins are capable of taking advantage of most of Mizzou's primary weaknesses -- they rebound well, shoot pretty well, draw fouls, slow the game down, etc.  BUT ... they're terrible at the 3-ball, and they turn the ball over as much as anybody on this list.  Facing Ben Howland in the NCAAs typically doesn't work out well for you either, but for some reason...

Verdict: WANT.

UNLV (No. 22)

UNLV Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UNLV Off.
MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 54
53
Push
Effective FG% 78
168
UNLV
Turnover % 87
9
MU
Off. Reb. % 115
313
UNLV Big
FTA/FGA 133
239
UNLV Big
MU Offense vs UNLV Defense Ranks

MU Offense UNLV Def. Advantage
Efficiency 28
14
Push
Effective FG% 58
26
UNLV
Turnover % 20
17
Push
Off. Reb. % 170
143
UNLV
FTA/FGA 259
226
UNLV

Adj. Tempo: 103rd, Off. 3PT%: 223rd.

One of the most highly-ranked teams on this list, the Rebs force a ton of turnovers, force bad shots and grade out at least relatively well in terms of rebounds and fouls.  But their pace suggests they can be sucked into playing fast, and they shoot 3's poorly.  I'm not tremendously scared of this matchup, but it's certainly worth noting that Mizzou only actually holds one advantage (and a minor one) in the table above.

Verdict: Not sure.

Utah State (No. 16)

USU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

USU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 57
53
Push
Effective FG% 47
168
USU Big
Turnover % 58
9
MU
Off. Reb. % 114
313
USU Big
FTA/FGA 50
239
USU Big
MU Offense vs USU Defense Ranks

MU Offense USU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
8
USU
Effective FG% 58
6
USU
Turnover % 20
255
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
2
USU
FTA/FGA 259
92
USU

Adj. Tempo: 312th, Off. 3PT%: 100th.

Hmm.  Super slow tempo (Nebraska), great defense (Nebraska), outstanding defensive rebounding (Nebraska) and a gigantic fouls advantage (Nebraska).  They (Nebraska) remind me (Nebraska) of some other team (Nebraska), but I can't (Nebraska) quite put my (Nebraska) finger on it (Nebraska).

Verdict: DO NOT WANT TIMES 1000.

Villanova (No. 29)

VU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

VU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 23
53
VU
Effective FG% 138
168
VU
Turnover % 48
9
MU
Off. Reb. % 70
313
VU Big
FTA/FGA 64
239
VU Big
MU Offense vs VU Defense Ranks

MU Offense VU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
57
MU
Effective FG% 58
55
Push
Turnover % 20
274
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
76
VU
FTA/FGA 259
136
VU Big

Adj. Tempo: 195th, Off. 3PT%: 149th.

Considering how most of the season played out, it feels a little odd that Mizzou is going to likely end up in the 8-9 game.  And it feels VERY weird that Villanova might do the same.  The Wildcats have beaten nine KenPom Top 100 teams since December 30 ... but of course, they've lost five in a row and seven of nine.  Mizzou holds a strong ball control advantage, and 'Nova isn't filled with great 3-point shooters.  But really, your view of 'Nova depends on your view of momentum as it relates to the NCAAs.  I think 'Nova will play pretty well this coming week, so...

Verdict: DO NOT WANT.

Washington (No. 15)

UW Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UW Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 9
53
UW
Effective FG% 16
168
UW Big
Turnover % 19
9
Push
Off. Reb. % 16
313
UW Big
FTA/FGA 294
239
MU
MU Offense vs UW Defense Ranks

MU Offense UW Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
42
Push
Effective FG% 58
46
Push
Turnover % 20
112
MU
Off. Reb. % 170
152
Push
FTA/FGA 259
284
MU

Adj. Tempo: 13th, Off. 3PT%: 51st.

Washington is a Ken Pomeroy favorite, and it doesn't typically work out well to bet against Pomeroy, but ... the potential fireworks in this game is too much to root against.  For entertainment purposes above all else, I want this one badly.

Verdict: WANT, WANT, WANT.

West Virginia (No. 21)

WVU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

WVU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 31
53
WVU
Effective FG% 204
168
MU
Turnover % 101
9
MU
Off. Reb. % 6
313
WVU Big
FTA/FGA 100
239
WVU Big
MU Offense vs WVU Defense Ranks

MU Offense WVU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
28
Push
Effective FG% 58
31
WVU
Turnover % 20
253
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
274
MU Big
FTA/FGA 259
116
WVU Big

Adj. Tempo: 308th, Off. 3PT%: 205th.

Few teams in the country hit the offensive glass better than WVU, which alone makes them a tough matchup for Mizzou.  BUT ... they don't shoot well, they turn the ball over quite a bit, and for one reason or another, they allow an absolute TON of offensive rebounds of their own.  This isn't my favorite matchup here, but ... it's not nearly as unfavorable as I would have expected.

Verdict: WANT, surprisingly enough.

Xavier (No. 39)

XU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

XU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 30
53
XU
Effective FG% 68
168
XU Big
Turnover % 61
9
MU
Off. Reb. % 149
313
XU Big
FTA/FGA 32
239
XU Big
MU Offense vs XU Defense Ranks

MU Offense XU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 28
59
MU
Effective FG% 58
50
Push
Turnover % 20
248
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 170
23
XU Big
FTA/FGA 259
104
XU Big

Adj. Tempo: 206th, Off. 3PT%: 210th.

They don't force turnovers, and they don't shoot 3-pointers well.  They're solid on the glass, and they're one of the longest teams in the country.  This is not as experienced or good a Xavier team as the one that beat Mizzou two years ago ... but this isn't as good a Mizzou team either.

Verdict: Want, if reluctantly.

 

---

So to summarize...

WANT: Florida State, Gonzaga, Marquette, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA, Washington, West Virginia, Xavier.  (Want the most: Florida State, Washington.)

CAN'T DECIDE: Michigan State, Temple, UNLV

DO NOT WANT: Butler, George Mason, Utah State, Villanova

 

Which means the chances of a Mizzou-Utah State first round matchup just rose to about 98%.

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