Missouri Tigers vs. Cornell Big Red Preview and Pick – March Madness 2009

No. 9 Missouri Tigers -13, 146 O/U (28-6) 17-9 ATS, 14-13 O/U vs. Cornell Big Red +13, 146 O/U (21-9) 14-10 ATS, 12-12 O/U Friday, March 20, 2009 Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho, 3:00 p.m. EST, TV: CBS

By Wilson of Predictem.com

The Missouri Tigers received the No. 3 seed in this years West Region of the NCAA Tournament and they will take on the No. 14 seed Cornell Big Red, winners of the Ivy League. The Tigers won the Big 12 Championship by beating Baylor 73-60 at the Ford Center on Saturday.

Cornell comes into Fridays game averaging 74.1 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting from field goal range. The Big Red is also a respectable 73.4 percent from the free throw line. Cornell has won four of their last five games with the most recent victory over Princeton 60-51. The Big Red managed to keep a perfect 16-0 record on their home court this season and had an 8-3 ATS home record. Cornells defense held opponents to just 64 points per contest but does the fact that their league is not as talented negate their defensive efforts? Only time will tell, and Friday is rapidly approaching as the Big Red face a major obstacle in Missouri.

Missouri is feeling confident and ready to run deep into the NCAAs as they boast the No. 3 seed. After winning the Big 12 Championship Missouri certainly cannot look past the Ivy League champs by any means. The NCAA Tournament is infamous for big-time teams going down to the little engine that could opponents.

This will be the first trip to the NCAAs for the Tigers since 2003. In the 2003 appearance, the Tigers beat Southern Illinois and then lost to Marquette, which could be a second round opponent for the Tigers if they win on Friday.

Missouri will need to pay attention to Cornells Ryan Wittman as the 66 junior leads the Big Red with 18.8 points per game and he hits 42 percent of his three-point attempts in which hes drained 93 treys. Cornell has a solid offense and a terrific point guard in Louis Dale who has 80 assists on the season to go along with 28 steals and 13.5 points per game. The Big Red also has a huge presence inside the paint with 7 footer Jeff Foote who averages 11.8 ppg and 7.1 rebounds. Foote also has 64 blocked shots on the year.

Zaire Taylor may be the one player to watch for Missouri in this tournament as he can kill teams with his shooting. Taylor has game winning shots at Texas and then again at Kansas. DeMarre Carroll is another superstar for the Tigers and all he did was earn most outstanding player in the Big 12 title game.

Oddsmaker Sportsbook has Missouri heavily favored as they are currently holding a -13 line with the total sitting at 146. Cornell is 16-3 SU in their last 19 games, and the total has gone UNDER in five of their last six games. The Tigers have gone 4-1 ATS in their last five contests, and they are 11-2 SU in the last thirteen games. Missouris total has gone UNDER in four of their last five games.

The big dance is always full of upsets at some point, but I dont see the Tigers falling to the Big Red unless there is some sort of major injury or team food poisoning issue. The Tigers should take care of business as the higher seed but in the NCAAs the backdoor is slightly open for an unlikely team to make some noise.

Wilsons Pick: I like the defense in this game. Take the UNDER. Luck to ya.