Missouri recorded 23 wins last season against just 11 losses, but was mired in the middle-of-the-pack in the Big 12 at 8-8.
The Tigers were eliminated in the second round of the conference tournament in an 86-71 loss to Texas A&M as three-point favorites. They still made it into the NCAA Tournament as the 11th seed in the West region.
A one-point underdog in their first game, Missouri’s stay in the big dance was a short one. They were eliminated by Cincinnati, 78-63.
The Tigers ended the 2010-'11 season 12-16-1 against the spread in games with posted lines. The total went over in 16 of their 29 games.
2011-12 Missouri Tigers Outlook
Frank Haith takes over the helm as head coach for Missouri after replacing Mike Anderson, who left to take the head spot at Arkansas. The transition should be fairly smooth given the amount of experience on this team.
The Tigers return four of their five starters from last season and their top six scorers, but they suffered a serious blow to the lineup when senior forward Laurence Bowers went down with a torn ACL earlier this month.
They will look to senior Ricardo Ratliffe to elevate his game to help replace Bowers’ 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. However, the lack of depth in the front court remains a major concern.
Missouri is loaded with talent in the back court, led by Marcus Denmon and Kim English.
Denmom led the team in scoring last season with an average of 17.1 points per game while shooting a solid 50 percent from the floor. English, a third-team All-Big 12 selection, averaged 10 points and 3.1 rebounds a game.
Another key player back from last year is guard Michael Dixon, who was fourth on the team in scoring with 10.3 points a game and second in assists with 3.5.
Other than the injury to Bowers, the only significant loss from last season is forward Justin Stafford, who averaged 17 minutes off the bench while scoring 6.4 points and averaging 3.6 rebounds a game.
The huge void in the front court could press 6'8" redshirt freshman Kadeem Green into a more active role off the bench. The rest of this year’s recruiting class will be pressed for playing time given the wealth of players back from last year’s team.
2011-12 Missouri Basketball Schedule
Rumors are swirling that this may be Missouri’s last season in the Big 12 as it entertains thoughts of a jump to the SEC. But nothing has been decided at this point.
After nonconference matchups with Notre Dame and Villanova from the Big East, the Tigers open up their possible final go-round in the Big 12 with a Jan. 3 tilt against Oklahoma.
Things heat up later that month with back-to-back games against Texas A&M and Baylor. They close things out with games against the Aggies, Kansas State and Kansas in three of their final five regular season games.
2011-12 Missouri Predictions for College Basketball
Missouri is at the back end of most of the major preseason polls. Rivals ranks them 28th in its list of top 32 teams, the Sporting News ranks them 22nd and the ESPN/USA TODAY Coaches Poll has them at 25.
BetOnline has the Tigers as the fourth favorite to win the conference at +600 and a moderate longshot at +8500 to win a national title.
Before the Bowers injury, this team was positioned to make a serious run at winning the Big 12. They're shaping up as another middle-of-the-pack team in the conference and a possible bubble team come tournament time if it does add a few key nonconference wins to its resume.
The Tigers should still get a spot in the dance, but not as high as last season’s 11th seed.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc’s Sports college basketball picks Web site.
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