Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
This could arguably be the best first-round matchup in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, with the Missouri Tigers (2-0) taking on the Xavier Musketeers (2-0). Xavier heads into this season having to replace three cornerstones of Sean Miller’s program in Stanley Burrell, Drew Lavender and Josh Duncan. But there’s still a good amount of talent on the roster, most notably forwards C.J. Anderson and Derrick Brown, guard B.J. Raymond, and a highly-touted freshman big man by the name of Kenny Frease. But the question as to who runs the show at the point is one that the Musketeers hope to have a solid answer for by the time Atlantic 10 play rolls around. Dante Jackson and Brad Redford have shared the role in their wins over IPFW and Toledo, but the Tigers’ pressure defense will provide a true test for the Xavier ball handlers.
As for the Tigers, Mike Anderson’s team is hoping to get back to the NCAA Tournament, and with four starters back this could be the year in which they get the job done. Forwards Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll have led the way in Missouri victories over Prairie View A&M and Chattanooga, but just like Xavier they’ll be getting their first true test of the season. Guards J.T. Tiller and Marcus Denmon have been the best distributors on the team so far, with Denmon boasting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.5. The key for Missouri in two victories: turnovers forced, with forty-five going the Tigers’ way in those games. They’ll have to get more of the same against an inexperienced Xavier backcourt if they’re to win this game.
Winner: Missouri Margin: 1-4 pts.
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About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
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