LAWRENCE KS - FEBRUARY 07: Travis Releford #24 of the Kansas Jayhawks grabs a rebound as Matt Pressey #3 of the Missouri Tigers defends during the game on February 5 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
It's the eve of one final matchup between Kansas and Missouri in Allen Fieldhouse as Big 12 Conference opponents. If you believe that the current Kansas stance will hold it could be the final matchup for quite some time between these two teams in Lawrence and even if the Jayhawks were to change their stance and say yes to a Missouri matchup, it's hard to imagine the Tigers agreeing to a game in Lawrence.
This rivalry runs deep. It runs deep enough that fans hate everything about the opponent. Black and gold might as well be the most evil color combination in existence as far as Kansas fans are concerned and the University of Missouri might as well be the Chernobyl exclusion zone. It's a bitter rivalry and this has been a bitter breakup.
Tomorrow Kansas welcomes Missouri into the Phog one final time and it's a game that shows exactly why playing this game in the future would sell the rivalry short in every way. Take Kansas and Missouri and move it to a neutral site in November or December and this game doesn't matter. Tomorrow, it matters.
Both teams are the only remaining contenders for a Big 12 league title. Kansas has won seven straight and would love nothing more than to make it eight while beating out Missouri. The Tigers have yet to win any Big 12 title to speak of and they would consider it the ultimate coup to win their first, break the Jayhawks streak and head off to the SEC. Sure there would still be some emotion involved if these teams play early in the year or in the NCAA tournament, but squaring off for league supremacy is what makes this rivalry matter most on the basketball court.
Realistically Kansas will likely grab a share of the league regardless, but without a doubt a loss on Saturday it won't feel the same. It's a huge game, just like the one in Columbia and while these two teams could still face eachother during the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, this is the first step toward closing things out in the manner each team is hoping.
A quick glance at Saturday and the rivalry
No. 4/5 Kansas (23-5, 13-2) and No. 3 Missouri (25-3, 12-3) meet for the 267th time in men's basketball which will be the final regular-season meeting as members of the same conference.
A Kansas victory against Missouri would KU at least a share of an unprecedented eighth-straight Big 12 title. It would be KU's 12th Big 12 title in the 16-year history of the conference. KU would also add to its NCAA Division I-leading 55th conference regular-season title.
This series dates back to 1907 when both schools were pre-members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads, 171-95. Since 2009, the Jayhawks have won five of the last six meetings against the Tigers. Kansas is 88-33 against Missouri in games played in Lawrence, including a 41-14 margin in Allen Fieldhouse. KU has won the last 12 meetings with MU in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to 2000. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 24-10 against Missouri - 22-9 in regular-season play and 2-1 in the Big 12 Championship.