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No. 25: Missouri Tigers

Image (1) MissouriTigerslogo.jpg for post 343

2009-10 record: 23-11 (10-6), fifth in Big 12
Lost to West Virginia in NCAA tournament second round
Coach: Mike Anderson, 88-46, 4 years (177-87 overall)
Last NCAA miss: 2008
2010-11 roster [click here]
2010-11 schedule [click here]

The good: Missouri returns its top three scorers in juniors Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bowers, a promising start for a team that likes to push the pace.

More promising is the Tigers’ depth. Senior Justin Safford returns from a knee injury, while sophomore Michael Dixon Jr, junior Matt Pressey and impact freshman Phil Pressey all figure to earn significant playing time. The Tigers love to press (few teams force more turnovers), which makes that depth crucial.

The bad: Missouri’s best defenders are gone. No J.T. Tiller, no Zaire Taylor. That’s not a small thing given how reliant the Tigers were on their defensive ability. Also, if the Tigers can’t start rebounding - they’re average on the offensive glass and were among the worst in D-I on the defensive glass last season - they’ll struggle against teams that have guards who can break that pressure.

The unknown: What’s in store for freshman Tony Mitchell? Missouri’s top incoming freshman is ineligible for the fall semester and may miss out on the entire season.

If he plays, he automatically becomes their top post player, making the Tigers less likely to get overrun by bigger teams. Pair him with Safford up front and Missouri’s capable of a Sweet 16 run.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.