The great part about college basketball slates is that there are always relevant teams playing on any given day. Six ranked teams are in action on Tuesday, including No. 5 Texas hosting No. 24 Oklahoma. Duke and North Carolina are also playing, but I'm circling an SEC showdown between Missouri and Auburn as my play of the day.
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Missouri at Auburn (-2.5, 148.5), 9 PM EST, ESPN2
Since getting five-star recruit Sharife Cooper in the lineup, Auburn has figured itself out. The 3-2 record does not do justice to how strong Bruce Pearl’s team has been of late.
On Saturday, the team showed its upside, blasting South Carolina on the road, 109-86. Since getting Cooper, the Tigers are second in the SEC in points per game (86.6), third in scoring margin (+8.4) and second in field-goal percentage (47.6 percent), per AuburnTigers.com
However, I’m selling the home team here. Missouri boasts one of the best defenses in the SEC, especially along the perimeter, ranking inside the top 25 in opponent three-point percentage.
This is an Auburn offense that shoots at a high volume from deep, and is fresh off a 14-of-29 three-point performance. There should be some regression here.
On the other end, Missouri’s offense is based around getting easier shots inside and making trips to the free throw line. Missouri is 25th in the country in free throw attempts per field goal attempts, while Auburn is 200th in the nation in the same metric on defense. By getting to the line, this can also slow down the War Eagle transition attack and allow the Missouri defense to get set.
Auburn allows below the national average in three-point rate, but that fits Missouri's shot profile of taking it inside. Just a quarter of the Tigers’ shots come from beyond the arc, outside the top 300 in the country.
This could be a bit of a letdown spot after Missouri won at Tennessee, but I trust the veteran laden visitors to show up for this one and bring Auburn back down to reality.
I like Missouri as an underdog at any number Tuesday night.
Pick: Missouri +2.5
Reed is a native of New Jersey and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a die-hard Brooklyn Nets fan and always believes the spread has a chance of covering. You can follow Reed on twitter @ReedWallach for more commentary