#3 Baylor vs. #5 Missouri: Saturday's Preview

January 21st, 2012

On the heels of their first loss of the season, #3 Baylor (17-1, 4-1) returns home to take on #5 Missouri (17-1, 4-1) in a game that features a major contrast when it comes to team strengths. Scott Drew's Bears are one of the biggest teams in college basketball while Frank Haith's Tigers are neither as big or as deep in the frontcourt. That simply means that in addition to forwards Ricardo Ratliffe (13.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Steve Moore (4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg) all hands must be on deck of Missouri is to have any shot of leaving Waco with a victory. But they also enjoy an edge on the perimeter despite the improved play of Baylor's Pierre Jackson (12.2 ppg, 5.4 apg), and that's something the Tigers will look to exploit throughout the afternoon. 

Missouri isn't the frenetic, full-court pressure team they were under Mike Anderson, making the move to being a tough defensive team in the half-court. The Tigers still force 15.6 turnovers per game, and with Baylor averaging 14.9 that could be an area where Missouri finds some baskets in the way of points off of turnovers. Phil Pressey (9.7 ppg, 5.9 apg), who is also the leading assist man on the team, leads the way with 2.1 steals per game and will likely match up with starting point guard A.J. Walton (4.3 ppg, 3.7 apg) defensively.

In addition to Pressey there's leading scorer Marcus Denmon (17.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Matt Pressey (8.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and sixth man Michael Dixon Jr. (12.6 ppg, 2.8 apg) to be concerned with, as all can quickly turn Baylor's mistakes into points on the other end. Jackson, Walton and Brady Heslip (10.1 ppg, 47.7% 3PT) will need to take care of the basketball and makes sure they get the ball inside to the big men consistently in order to take full advantage of the edge in size. Baylor's depth in the paint could prove to be too much for Missouri if they do this.

Perry Jones III (14.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is Baylor's most talented player when considering the next level, but there are also concerns when it comes to physicality and toughness. In addition to him there's freshman Quincy Miller (12.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg), another versatile forward who can step out on the perimeter as well as finish above the rim, and senior Quincy Acy (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is their toughest interior player. Anthony Jones and Cory Jefferson round out the rotation, and if they can get either Ratliffe or Moore into early foul trouble the size disparity becomes even more extreme.

Ratliffe is averaging 2.4 fouls committed per game while Moore commits 2.2 fouls per game, and Ratliffe's worst contest with regards to foul trouble was also their lone defeat. Ratliffe played just 14 minutes and scored two points in the Tigers' loss at Kansas State, and the Wildcats are another team that has the benefit of multiple big bodies in the paint. He and Moore will have to stay on the floor, and senior Kim English (14.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) will not only be a key factor on the glass but also an advantage for Missouri should Baylor look to go man-to-man.

That's the question for Baylor, who in all honesty isn't a good rebounding team despite their height and a rebounding margin of plus-8.2. Do they go man, which could bolster their rebounding ability or do they go with their zone and risk Missouri getting hot from deep? Baylor's opponents have rebounded 32.8% of their missed shots this season, and a big reason why is that the Bears tend to rely on their athletic ability instead of the fundamental act of boxing out. Foul trouble and turnovers will ultimately decide things in Waco, and the Bears are hoping to cement their status as a top seed with a win.

Also of note on Saturday is a matchup in the ACC between Duke and Florida State, with the visiting Seminoles playing some good basketball of late. Leonard Hamilton's team has displayed improved execution on the offensive end of the floor, something that got them in trouble earlier this season, and they'll need to continue to do so if they're to win at Cameron. Andre Dawkins and Austin Rivers both played well in the Blue Devils' win over Wake Forest but they're going to have their hands full with arguably the best defensive team in the ACC.  

Surging Cincinnati is back on the road, this time taking on West Virginia ahead of their home game against top-ranked Syracuse on Monday. WVU senior forward Kevin Jones leads the Big East in both scoring and rebounding and is frontrunner for Big East Player of the Year, and the battle between he and Yancy Gates should be an entertaining duel to watch. But how will the young WVU guards perform as they face off with Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick? How Gary Browne and Jabarie Hinds "supplement" Truck Bryant's efforts will go a long way in determining the outcome.  

Michigan State hosts Purdue in an important Big Ten battle, and in forwards Draymond Green (MSU) and Robbie Hummel (Purdue) two of the conference's best players will be on display. Purdue cannot allow Green to control the game in almost a "point forward" role for the Spartans. Keith Appling and Travis Trice have improved by the game for Michigan State, but they'll have their hands full with the experienced Lewis Jackson who is healthy after being a bit banged up a short time back.

There are also big matchups at the top of the Atlantic 10 and NEC with Xavier visiting Dayton and Wagner visiting LIU Brooklyn. First place is on the line in both matchups, with the latter featuring one of the hottest teams in the country in Dan Hurley's Seahawks. Xavier/Dayton is one of the most intense rivalry games that doesn't get as much national attention as it should, and first-year head coach Archie Miller has the Flyers in position to make a run at the A-10 crown. But the Musketeers have been the standard in the conference in recent years, meaning that the road to the title goes through Cincinnati.

Also a big day in Las Vegas as New Mexico hopes to rebound from their home loss to San Diego State with a win at UNLV, but that will be far easier said than done. Anthony Marshall has played outstanding basketball of late for Dave Rice's team and slowing him down will be critical for the Lobos, and the "UCLA Transfer Bowl" should be fun as both teams rely on guys who began their collegiate careers in Westwood (UNM's Drew Gordon and UNLV's Chace Stanback and Mike Moser). Also the two remaining undefeated teams, Syracuse and Murray State, are both on the road with the Orange taking on Notre Dame (the Irish have beaten #1 nine times in their history) and the Racers at SIU-Edwardsville.  

Top 25 Games
6:00 PM (1) Syracuse at Notre Dame (ESPN)
12:00 PM Alabama at (2) Kentucky (CBS)
2:00 PM (5) Missouri at (3) Baylor (ESPN)
4:00 PM Florida State at (4) Duke (ESPN)
8:00 PM (6) Ohio State at Nebraska (BTN)
4:00 PM (7) Kansas at Texas (CBS)
12:00 PM Purdue at (9) Michigan State (ESPN)
9:00 PM (10) Murray State at SIU-Edwardsville (ESPNU)
4:00 PM (11) Connecticut at Tennessee (CBS)
12:00 PM Rutgers at (12) Georgetown (ESPN3)
6:00 PM LSU at (14) Florida (ESPN3)
7:00 PM (15) Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
10:00 PM Air Force at (16) San Diego State (The Mtn.)
3:00 PM Indiana State at (18) Creighton (ESPN2)
2:00 PM (19) Michigan at Arkansas (CBS)
10:15 PM New Mexico at (20) UNLV (CBS CS)
9:00 PM (21) Louisville at Pittsburgh (ESPN)
7:00 PM (22) Marquette at Providence (ESPN3)
11:00 PM (23) Saint Mary's at Santa Clara
7:00 PM (24) Harvard at Dartmouth

NCAA Division I Games
11:00 AM Maryland at Temple (ESPN2)
12:00 PM Wake Forest at Boston College (ESPN3)
12:00 PM Wright State at Detroit (ESPN3)
1:00 PM SMU at Memphis
1:00 PM Stony Brook at Maine
1:00 PM Xavier at Dayton (ESPN2)
1:00 PM Villanova at St. John's (ESPNU)
1:30 PM South Carolina at Auburn (ESPN3)
1:30 PM Kansas State at Oklahoma State (ESPN3)
2:00 PM UCF at UAB
2:00 PM Army at American
2:00 PM Georgia State at Delaware
2:00 PM Arkansas-Little Rock at Western Kentucky (FCS)
2:00 PM St. Francis (PA) at Fairleigh Dickinson
2:00 PM Fordham at St. Bonaventure
2:00 PM Miami (OH) at Ohio
2:00 PM Yale at Brown
2:00 PM Radford at Coastal Carolina
2:00 PM Navy at Colgate
2:00 PM Toledo at Eastern Michigan
2:00 PM Florida Atlantic at Florida International (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Butler at Loyola (IL)
2:00 PM Central Michigan at Western Michigan
2:00 PM UNC Wilmington at William & Mary
2:00 PM Texas-Pan American at NJIT
2:00 PM Belmont at USC Upstate
2:30 PM Georgia Tech at Clemson (ESPN3)
3:00 PM Cincinnati at West Virginia (ESPNU)
3:00 PM Western Carolina at Appalachian State
3:05 PM Houston Baptist at Chicago State
3:30 PM Virginia Military at Campbell
3:30 PM Central Connecticut State at Sacred Heart
3:30 PM Boise State at TCU
4:00 PM Ole Miss at Georgia (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Valparaiso at Illinois-Chicago
4:00 PM Buffalo at Bowling Green
4:00 PM Wofford at Furman
4:00 PM Oklahoma at Texas A&M (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Hofstra at James Madison
4:00 PM North Carolina Central at Coppin State
4:00 PM Northeastern at Drexel
4:00 PM Lipscomb at East Tennessee State
4:00 PM Towson at George Mason
4:00 PM Rhode Island at La Salle
4:00 PM Northwestern State at McNeese State
4:00 PM Florida A&M at Maryland-Eastern Shore
4:00 PM North Carolina A&T at Morgan State
4:00 PM UCLA at Oregon
4:00 PM South Carolina State at Savannah State
4:00 PM Quinnipiac at Bryant University
4:30 PM North Florida at Mercer
4:30 PM San Francisco at Portland
5:00 PM Arizona State at Utah
5:00 PM Massachusetts at Richmond (CBS SN)
5:00 PM UTSA at Texas State
5:00 PM Alabama State at Alcorn State
5:00 PM Lamar at Central Arkansas
5:00 PM Alabama A&M at Southern
5:00 PM Mount St. Mary's at St. Francis (NY)
5:00 PM Iowa State at Texas Tech
5:30 PM Winthrop at Charleston Southern
5:30 PM Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Southern
6:00 PM Arizona at Colorado (FCS)
6:00 PM Stanford at Washington
6:00 PM Kent State at Akron (ESPN3)
6:00 PM Norfolk State at Hampton
6:00 PM Marshall at Southern Miss
6:00 PM Colorado State at Wyoming
6:05 PM California at Washington State
6:30 PM Mississippi Valley State at Prairie View A&M
7:00 PM Charlotte at George Washington
7:00 PM Cornell at Columbia
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Pennsylvania
7:00 PM Jacksonville at Kennesaw State
7:00 PM Holy Cross at Bucknell
7:00 PM Citadel at Davidson
7:00 PM Austin Peay at Eastern Illinois
7:00 PM Chattanooga at Elon
7:00 PM Liberty at High Point
7:00 PM Robert Morris at Monmouth
7:00 PM Tennessee-Martin at Morehead State
7:00 PM UNC-Asheville at Presbyterian
7:00 PM Nicholls State at Southeastern Louisiana
7:00 PM LIU Brooklyn at Wagner (ESPNU)
7:30 PM Charleston at Georgia Southern (ESPN3)
7:30 PM Bethune-Cookman at Delaware State
8:00 PM Cal State Northridge at Cal Poly
8:00 PM Missouri State at Bradley (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Duquesne at Saint Louis
8:00 PM Tulsa at Rice
8:00 PM East Carolina at Houston
8:00 PM Denver at North Texas
8:00 PM Stephen F. Austin at Texas-Arlington
8:00 PM San Diego at Gonzaga
8:00 PM Grambling State at Jackson State
8:00 PM South Dakota State at North Dakota State
8:00 PM Ball State at Northern Illinois
8:00 PM Brigham Young at Pepperdine
8:00 PM Texas A&M-CC at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM UTEP at Tulane
8:00 PM Old Dominion at VCU
8:05 PM Middle Tennessee at South Alabama
8:05 PM Oakland at Oral Roberts (FCS)
8:05 PM Illinois State at Evansville (ESPN3)
8:05 PM Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State
8:05 PM Southern Illinois at Wichita State
8:30 PM Western Illinois at South Dakota
8:30 PM Southeast Missouri State at Tennessee Tech
8:30 PM Louisiana-Monroe at Troy
9:00 PM Louisiana Tech at San Jose State
9:05 PM Northern Colorado at Montana State
9:05 PM Sacramento State at Montana
9:05 PM Northern Arizona at Idaho State
9:05 PM Portland State at Eastern Washington
9:05 PM North Dakota at Utah Valley
9:30 PM IPFW at Southern Utah
10:00 PM UC Davis at Pacific
10:00 PM Cal State Fullerton at UC Irvine
10:00 PM Fresno State at Nevada (ESPN3)
10:30 PM USC at Oregon State (FSN)
11:00 PM Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara (ESPNU)
11:05 PM Utah State at Idaho
12:00 AM New Mexico State at Hawaii