NCAA Tournament Predictions: West Region 2. Missouri vs. 15. Norfolk State

By: Kels Dayton

 2 Missouri (30-4, 14-4 Big Twelve)-Missouri is a legitimate Final Four threat with an incredible, fast-paced offense, a hounding 40-Minutes-of-Hell style defense and crunch-time scorers in seniors Marcus Denmon (17.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Kim English (14.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg). If you’re looking for an experienced team with talent that can cut down the nets in New Orleans, this is it.

Guard Marcus Denmon (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

College basketball fans often lament that the top teams are loaded with freshmen and sophomores, but Missouri’s top four scorers are all upper-classmen.

The Tigers play an up-and-down style that can overwhelm opponents, and Missouri humiliated teams during its impressive 18-1 start. However, Missouri struggles with physical teams that can present size and strength in the post, as evidenced by a season sweep at the hands of Kansas State.

Missouri will hound you defensively, and was 14th in the nation in turnover margin. Guard Phil Pressey is one of the nation’s premiere perimeter defenders. The Tigers don’t have the raw talent of a North Carolina or Kentucky, but this is a dangerous NCAA Tournament team because of its experience and playing style.


6th Points per game (80.3)

3rd Field Goal Percentage (.504)

279th Rebounds per game (32.2)

Team stats courtesy


 15 Norfolk State (25-9, 13-3 MEAC)- Norfolk State has reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history behind 6-10 senior center Kyle O’Quinn, who averages 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

Kyle O'Quinn (Photo:

O’Quinn could present some matchup problems for Missouri, which is a relatively small team and may have a hard time dealing with the first-team All-MEAC selection. 6-6 guard Chris McEachin is also a handful on the wing, averaging 12.8 points per game.

The Spartans own some impressive wins this season, including a 61-56 defeat of Drexel and a 66-53 bumping of TCU in the Paradise Jam in the Bahamas in November. Norfolk State also took Marquette down to the wire in the tournament final, falling 59-57.

If you’re looking for a huge upset, you might find it here. But don’t bet on it.


132nd Field Goal Percentage (.443)

76th Rebounds per game (36.4)

149th Points per game (69.0)


Team stats courtesy of

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