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No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Missouri preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Oklahoma Sooners and Missouri Tigers meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

BJ Armstrong and Julian Edlow’s locks for the final four

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Missouri as of March 19th at 10:30 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Oklahoma -0.5: 59% of handle, 41% of bets
Missouri +0.5: 41% of handle, 59% of bets

Over 140: 23% of handle, 49% of bets
Under 140: 77% of handle, 51% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for Oklahoma vs. Missouri as of March 18th at 11:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Oklahoma -2: 75% of handle, 78% of bets
Missouri +2: 25% of handle, 22% of bets
Over 141: 15% of handle, 50% of bets
Under 141: 85% of handle, 50% of bets

The Oklahoma Sooners face a tough challenge Saturday night when they take on the Missouri Tigers. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:25 p.m. and this game can be seen on TNT.

No. 8 Oklahoma: 15-10 (9-8): At-large

KenPom rating: 39 Overall, 36 Offense, 53 Defense
NET ranking: 36, (5-9 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Austin Reaves, 17.7 ppg
Key stat: The Sooners finished second behind Baylor in the Big 12 in assist/turnover ratio.

Predicted by many to be on the bottom half of the Big 12, the Sooners have been up and down all season. It’s been a downswing as of late as Oklahoma has lost five of six, but had won eight of nine before that stretch and were considered the hottest team in college basketball while showing they can play with anyone in one of America’s toughest conferences.

Senior guard Austin Reaves has been a breakout player for the Sooners, leading the team in scoring, rebounding and assists. Reaves averages 17.7 points per game, which ranks fifth in the Big 12, and his 5.2 assists per game checks in at third in the conference. Senior forward Brady Manek is the leader of the front court, averaging 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

No. 9 Missouri: 16-9 (8-8 SEC): At-large

KenPom rating: 51 Overall, 51 Offense, 58 Defense
NET ranking: 47 (7-6 VS QUAD 1)
Leading scorer: Dru Smith, Xavier Pinson 14.1 ppg
Key stat: Mizzou is 2-1 on a natural court this season

After finishing with a losing record in each of the last two seasons, the Missouri Tigers are back in the NCAA Tournament in head coach Cuonzo Martin’s fourth season in charge of the program. The Tigers are back to the tournament for the first time since 2018, who has taken three teams to March Madness previously.

Mizzou is led by upperclassmen guards Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith, who both average nearly 15 points per game. Senior big man Jeremiah Tilmon is a very important player on this roster, averaging 13.1 points with team-highs including 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game with a big presence around the basket. The Tigers aren’t exactly peaking however, as they’ve lost seven of their last ten on the way here, including a pair to NIT bound Mississippi.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Oklahoma -2
Total: 141
Moneyline: Oklahoma -132, Missouri +112

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Oklahoma
Point total pick: Over 141
Pick to Win: Oklahoma

In a battle of two teams swooning into March, the Sooners appear to be the better side. The Tigers are pretty middle of the road in everything, not distinguishing themselves in any real way especially during their downswing. Meanwhile, the Sooners have emerged from what might be the toughest league in America this year with a better in-conference record. OU having been tested more regularly should be helpful here.