Colorado State (8) vs. Missouri (9) Game time: Thursday, March 21, 9:20 p.m. (Eastern) Channel: CBS
Colorado State had a strong season, coming up just short of the Mountain West regular season title, and falling to UNLV in the semifinals of the conference tournament. Led by Colton Iverson's 14.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, the Rams picked up solid non-conference wins over the course of the season, besting the University of Washington, the University of Denver and Montana, with really only two losses that could be classified as "bad" -- one to the University of Illinois-Chicago and the other to a Boise State team that was either great or terrible throughout the season. CSU just happened to catch Broncos on a good day.
The Rams will face Missouri in the first round. It's not a great match-up for either team, but it is an interesting one. Both teams rank in the top five nationally for rebounding (Mizzou is second, CSU is fourth). Both do a decent job scoring, but Missouri (76.2 ppg) plays at a faster tempo than CSU (73.1 ppg), so the scoring numbers are a bit skewed. The story of the Tigers' season has been inconsistency, even though the team is laden with upperclassmen. They played well enough to beat Florida, the fifth-ranked team at the time, but then poorly enough to lose to Kentucky in the next game. They turn the ball over at a high clip (13.2 turnovers/game), with lead guard Phil "Flip" Pressey vacillating between unstoppable and a liability -- and is sometimes both in the same game.
Colorado State is also a team of upperclassmen, but they take better care of the ball (10.7 turnovers/game), and shoot a decent percentage from the field (45 percent). The Rams' weakness is athleticism. They've got talent, sure, and great chemistry. But are those two attributes enough to take down a team with some of the best athletes in the country?
This game could come down to who does a better job taking care of the ball and who can impose their style on the other team. It's an intriguing contest -- just the kind of thing we all want from March Madness.
My pick: Missouri. Sorry, Colorado State. I love your tenacity and grit, but Missouri has too much talent.
Continue for our take on CU-Boulder's chances in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.