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Missouri forward Ricardo Ratliff defends a Cincinnati player in last year's NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati defeated Missouri in the second round of the tournament.
Missouri's team this year has all sorts of offensive weapons at their disposal, even without Laurence Bowers. Seniors Marcus Denmon, Kim English, and Ricardo Ratliff can all put the ball in the basket with ease. Guards Phil "Flip" Pressey and Michael Dixon have outstanding scoring capabilities as well.
As a team, Missouri has the 21st ranked offense in division one basketball, shooting .513 from the field while scoring 85 points per game. With an offense as powerful as the Tigers', Missouri can easily shoot their way through the first few rounds of the NCAA tournament this coming Spring.
Unfortunately for Missouri, Bowers' ACL injury does present an Achilles heel for Haith's team: defense.
With Bowers now out of the starting lineup, Missouri gives up a lot of size. With Ratliff anchoring the middle, Kim English, standing at 6'6'', has had to start at the power forward, while the 6'3'' Denmon is forced to play small forward. Phil Pressey and his older, yet underachieving brother Matt start at the two guard positions.
Luckily for the Tigers, 6'9" giant Steve Moore comes off the bench to help Ratliff. However Moore has been very unproductive in his previous three years in Columbia. He has never averaged more than three points per game throughout the course of a season, and has never averaged more than four rebounds.
Missouri is ranked 217th in rebounding so far this year, averaging only 35 per game.
Seniority is by far the Tiger's best asset. Even with a new coach at the helm, having seven seniors on a team can't hurt. These seven have played in the big games, and they know what it takes to make a strong tournament run in March.
If these veterans can play to their full potential, Frank Haith and Missouri will make a run through the NCAA Tournament. But with Bowers out, their defense just can not match up with the Jared Sullingers, Mason Plumlees, and Tyler Zellers out there, and will lose in the Elite Eight to a team such as Ohio St., Duke, or North Carolina.