Oklahoma basketball: It’s survival of the fittest for OU and Mizzou

Nov 26, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Austin Reaves (12) drives to the basket as Missouri Tigers forward Mitchell Smith (5) defends during the second half at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Austin Reaves (12) drives to the basket as Missouri Tigers forward Mitchell Smith (5) defends during the second half at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

16-9. 531. Saturday, March 20. 464. 6:25 CT. TNT. 15-10. Oklahoma -1

It wasn’t that long ago in this unprecedented college and Oklahoma basketball season that both OU and Missouri were ranked among the nation’s top-10 teams.

After beating West Virginia on the road a month ago and for the second time this season, the Sooners climbed to No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25. Missouri opened the season with six consecutive wins and was once as high as 10th in the AP poll after beating Alabama on Feb. 6.

The Sooners also have a win this season over SEC champion and No. 2-seeded Alabama. That win, in late January, was the third consecutive win over a top-10 team and vaulted Lon Kruger’s guys from No. 24 in the AP rankings all the way to No. 9 in just a week’s time.

Neither team is currently ranked as they limp into the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and an eight-seed/nine-seed showdown on Saturday in Indianapolis.

Oklahoma enters the NCAA Tournament with five losses in its last six games, while the Missouri Tigers have lost six of their last nine. The good news is one of the team is going to come out on the winning side on Saturday.

The two former Big 12 foes will tip off at approximately 6:25 CT on Saturday on the north court at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game will be broadcast on TNT.

Although these two teams have played each other just twice in the past decade, they played over 200 times as conference opponents when Missouri was a member of the Big 12 and all of its previous iterations.

Oklahoma owns a 114-97 record against the Tigers and is 42-32 all-time in NCAA Tournament games. The Sooners are 7-6 in NCAA postseason action under Kruger This will be OU’s 28th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 38 years.

The outlook for this game took a giant turn on Wednesday, when it was announced that OU sophomore guard and the team’s second leading scorer, De’Vion Harmon was ruled out of the game after testing positive for COVID-19 upon entering the NCAA Tournament bubble in Indianapolis.

Harmon averages12.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Moreover, he has been one of the bright spots for the Sooners during their recent slide.

The Sooners and Tigers are not only evenly matched in the tournament bracket, they are also comparable statistically. Oklahoma averages 74.8 points a game, and Mizzou 73.6. The Sooners shoot 44.2 percent from the floor, the Tigers 44.9. From three-point range, OU is 33.8, the Missouri shoots the three-ball at 32.0 percent. Both teams average around 35 rebounds per game.

The one area of difference is at the free-throw line, which could become a big factor in a close game, which this one is projected to be.  The Sooners shoot 74 percent as a team at the free-throw line, while the Tigers average 69 percent.

What all of this adds up to is you can expect a close game that could easily go down to the last possession.

What fans need to know about the OU-Mizzou NCAA 8/9 showdown

  • The prize for winning the NCAA Tournament opening round game between longtime conference foes Oklahoma and Missouri is a matchup on Monday against top-ranked and No. 1 seeded Gonzaga.
  • All-Big 12 First-Team selection Austin Reaves is Oklahoma’s leading scorer, averaging 17.7 a game and 19.0 in conference games. Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson lead Missouri, both with a 14.1 average.
  • Oklahoma is 5-7 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.
  • Oklahoma’s five wins this season over teams ranked in the top 15 is tied for the most in the country.
  • The Sooners have won six straight games against teams from the Southeastern Conference and are 3-0 over SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Missouri is 22-27 in 27 previous NCAA Tournament appearances. The Tigers’ last NCAA Tournament win was in 2010. As a 10 seed, Missouri defeated No. 7 Clemson 86-78.
  • The Tigers are 7-1 this season in games decided by five or fewer points.
  • This is the fifth time in Mizzou’s NCAA Tournament history that the Tigers have been a No. 9 seed. They are 1-4 playing as the ninth seed.
  • The only other time Oklahoma and Missouri have met in an NCAA Tournament game was also in the West Region. The Sooners and Tigers played for the West Region championship that season, with OU winning 81-75 and advancing to the Final Four.
  • No. 9 seeds have won seven of the eight games against higher 8 seeds in the past two NCAA Tournaments.


The absence of Oklahoma’s second or third best player (De’Vion Harmon) will likely tip the odds for this game from Oklahoma’s to Missouri’s favor. Earlier this week, Las Vegas oddsmakers were projecting the Sooners as a two-point favorite. The Sooners will not be at full strength, but they did beat then-No. 9 Alabama without their best player, Austin Reaves. There’s no reason why the available OU players won’t do so again against Missouri. I still like the good guys in white to pull this one out.

Oklahoma wins by +2, 73-71