The first round of the 2021 March Madness continues on Saturday, March 20, so here’s the best betting pick for the West Region meeting between the No. 9 Missouri Tigers and the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
These rivals have met on five occasions in the last ten years, and Missouri won three of them. However, Oklahoma was better in the previous two, including the most recent one in November 2019. According to PointsBet Sportsbook, the Sooners are slight 1-point favorites.
The Tigers are looking for the first NCAA Tournament win since 2010
The Missouri Tigers finished the regular season with a 16-9 record and made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018. It will be their 28th appearance in the Big Dance and they hope to record the first tourney victory since 2010 and a win over Clemson.
Missouri ended in 7th position in the SEC with an 8-8 conference record, and although they beat the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2nd round of the SEC tournament, the Tigers fell short to the Arkansas Razorbacks in the quarter-finals.
This season, Missouri is the 112th team in college basketball when it comes to the offense as they average 73.6 points per game, while they are 223rd on defense with 71.9 points allowed per contest.
Senior guard Dru Smith and junior guard Xavier Pinson are leading the team in points with 14.1 per game. Smith is also averaging 3.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game. Pinson has a tailbone injury, but he will be ready to face the Sooners on Saturday. Senior forward Jeremiah Tilmon is the third star of the team with 12.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 1.4 bpg.
The Sooners to play without Harmon
The Oklahoma Sooners had more success at the NCAA Tournament in the past several years, and unlike Missouri, they gave five final four appearances, with the previous coming in 2016.
Still, the Sooners didn’t impress this year as they finished the regular campaign with a 15-10 record (9-8 in conference play) and couldn’t get past the quarter-finals in the Big 12 Championship tourney. After beating the Iowa State Cyclones in the opening round, they suffered a 69-62 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks.
This year, Oklahoma has the 85th offense in the country that averages 74.8 points per game, while their defense is 144th as they allow 69.2 points per contest.
Senior guard Austin Reaves is the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and assist-maker. He averages 17.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 4.7 apg, but he will lack the help of De’Vion Harmon, who has been the Sooners’ second-best scorer with 12.9 points per game. Harmon is out for the Sooners’ first two games of the NCAA tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.
- 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games against Oklahoma
- 6-4 SU as an underdog this season
- 0-7 ATS in their last seven games
- 1-6 ATS in their previous seven games played in March
Even though Oklahoma had more success in the NCAA Tournament in recent years, they failed to impress this season. Also, they will be without Harmon and that could be a major problem for their offense. Austin Reaves will be under a lot of pressure and will be without much help on offense, so it’s a chance for Missouri to get an edge and advance to the next round. Smith and Pinson could have a show here, and I am backing the Tigers to get a win.
Pick: Missouri to win (-105)
Considering the scoring average of each team, this one should go Over. However, without Harmon, the Sooners could struggle on offense. Oklahoma is 11-14 O/U this season, while only three of the previous nine H2H duels went Over, so I am going with Under in this one.
Pick: Under 139.5 (-110)