NCAA Tournament

NCAA Tournament preview: (9) Missouri vs. (8) Colorado State



About 8:20 p.m. Thursday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.



TBS (Chs. 14 and 1202 on Time Warner; Chs. 70 and 826 on Comcast Kansas; Chs. 50 and 826 on Comcast Missouri; Chs. 112 and 1112 on AT U-Verse; Ch. 247 on DirecTV and Ch. 139 on Dish Network.



KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)



The ninth-seeded Tigers are coming off a disappointing 64-62 loss to Mississippi in the SEC tournament quarterfinals. The Tigers had won four of their last five games before the loss. Missouri has made the NCAA Tournament five straight years, something the Tigers haven’t done since 1999-2003. The last time Missouri was a No. 9 seed came in 2001, when the Tigers toppled Georgia on a late jumper by Clarence Gilbert before losing to top-seeded Duke. Junior guard Phil Pressey and senior forwards Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers are the only Tigers who have played in a NCAA Tournament game. Missouri is 11-3 in neutral-site games under coach Frank Haith. The Tigers are the only major conference team to have six players averaging double figures in scoring.



The eighth-seeded Rams had won three straight games before their 75-65 loss to UNLV in the Mountain West tournament semifinals. Colorado State finished second in its conference during the regular season. The Rams rank fourth nationally in rebounding at 40.4 per game. Colton Iverson, a 6-foot-10 senior center, has scored 20 or more points in three of his last four games. Senior guard Dorian Green attended Lawrence High and is expected to play after being limited because of a sprained ankle. Colorado State won all three of its neutral-court games this season.



Missouri’s mission Thursday will start with containing Iverson, a bruising big man. Oriakhi matches up well, but things will get dicey for the Tigers if he gets in foul trouble. Pressey must run the offense efficiently, while Bowers and sophomore guard Jabari Brown need to shoot well and stretch the floor. Colorado State starts five seniors and the Rams are well coached under Larry Eustachy, so if any of the Tigers’ problems show up — quick shots, foul trouble, lack of defensive awareness — their NCAA run will be short.