Porter Jr. key to Missouri's success

By Greg Peterson  (VSiN.com) 

March 15, 2018 11:24 PM

Missouri (plus 1) vs Florida State

Missouri will be without forward Jordan Barnett, second on the team in points and rebounds. His spot essentially will be taken by Michael Porter Jr., who played his first full game of the year in the SEC Tournament against Georgia.

Florida State plays at one of the quickest paces in the country, but will be facing a team in Missouri that does a good job of slowing down games. Florida State does go deep into its bench with 10 players playing at least 10 minutes per game. The Seminoles have a lot of size up and down the roster.

Missouri plays a lot of isolation basketball. The Tigers lack anyone who registers at least three assists per game, but do have a guard (Kassius Robertson) who averages 16.2 points.

Coaching can be a huge factor in tight NCAA Tournament games. Leonard Hamilton might be one of the worst in-game decisions makers in this tournament. His team went 3-5 down the stretch, which included a game against Louisville in which the Seminoles were down 25, cut it to eight with 1:30 left, but refused to foul until it was a six-point game with under :20 to go.

Peterson's pick: Missouri. What Porter will show is a question mark, but he may have the highest ceiling of any individual player in this tournament and Florida State has had lapses on defense when dealing with versatile big men.

New Mexico State (plus 5) vs Clemson

Clemson had gone 7-6 since starting forward Donte Grantham was lost for the season due to injury. This could make the Tigers pray to being a victim of a classic 12-5 upset.

New Mexico State is eighth in the nation in rebounding rate. Starting wing Zach Lofton averages 19.8 points per game.

Both teams are among the most efficient on defense in the nation with New Mexico State being fourth in that category and Clemson 25th.

The Aggies' biggest weakness is free-throw shooting percentage. This squad is 342th in the nation in that category, mitigated somewhat by the fact that the Aggies are 247th in the country in free-throw attempts per game. 

Depth is also an issue with Clemson as only four players average more than four points per contest.

Peterson's pick: Unless Elijah Johnson outplays Jemerrio Jones, who averages more than 11 points and 13 rebounds per game for the Aggies, New Mexico State should at the very least cover if not win outright.

Arkansas (plus 1.5) vs Butler

The Razorbacks are the only higher seed that enters Friday as an underdog and the line might be favoring the wrong team in this showdown. Arkansas is not a team that has a very high 3-point rate, but hits 40.1 percent as a collective on the ones they hoist up.

Butler has the better rebounding rate, but the Razorbacks notch about two blocks per game more than the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs also do not make opponents foul a lot, ranking 277th in DI in that category.

Arkansas has a trio of senior guards that play significant roles on the team in Anton Beard, Jaylen Barford, and Daryl Macon. These three combine to average 44.5 points per game with Barford and Macon both shooting over 43 percent from 3-point range.

Peterson's pick: Arkansas. Butler is a hit-or-miss 3-point shooting team, shooting below its normal percentage in six of the past seven games. If that does not change, the Bulldogs will not be able to hang with Arkansas.

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