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Game Preview: Missouri

Despite the fact that we are playing Missouri today, the rivalry talk has been more than a bit subdued this week. This is because of two reasons, at least from what I can tell. For one, the differential in talent and the product put out on the court is pretty substantial. Like, not really all that close at all. Mizzou is a decent team, a team with an outside shot of sneaking into the NCAAs, but they simply aren't up to par with us, the Kansas Jayhawks. But the other reason, and this one is more important, is that all of the Border War hatred and energy and all of that has been used up on the November 24th football contest in Arrowhead Stadium.

Like Jason Whitlock said, the latest edition of the Border War will be the one that defines the series for the next couple of years. No matter how many times Kansas basketball continues to beat up on the substantially worse Missouri Tigers outfit, they will never add up to the stakes that were on the line November 24th.

And no matter what happens tonight or when they pay a visit to Phog Allen Field House on February 4th, they can always point to 36-28. It will be an argument used by Tiger fans forever, at least until the next ultra-important game between the two schools (which, with how both football teams are shaping up, might be as soon as next season).

But I do expect a blowout tonight in Columbia, a game as lopsided as the first two conference games for Kansas. Missouri has only a handful of even halfway-decent wins and have lost six times. Here are some of their "quality" wins:

  • They beat Maryland, but now the Terps have been exposed as an average-at-best ACC middle-of-the-road team. So, no quality win there.
  • Then they beat Purdue. Props are due, sure, but Purdue is at best the 4th best team in the Big 10/11. The Big 10/11 sucks, its second best team (Michigan State) lost to frickin' Grand Valley State. And Iowa, who lost to Iowa State, so yea. Decent win, sure, but not any factor of just how good you might think you are.
  • And then they beat Texas, an actual quality win. Texas is a quality team, and a win over the Longhorns is one that can be bragged about.
But, then you have the losses. They lost to a worse-than-average Illinois team, a bottom-tier Big 10/11 squad. They have lost to a good Michigan State team, but like we said, they did lose to Grand Valley State. They lost to two decent teams in Arkansas and California, but Appalachian State beat Arkansas and Utah beat Cal. Then comes the embarrassing loss, a loss that looks really bad on any resume. They lost to Iowa State. For real. I don't care that the Cyclones won again an hour ago or so to move to 2-1 in the conference. Iowa State is a bad basketball team, and any loss to the Cyclones is unforgivable. Unless you are Colorado or Oklahoma State, then it is completely expected.

But now, let's move on to the actual Missouri Tigers instead of focusing on their less-than-stellar resume.

  • Stefhon Hannah is a really good player. I am always wary of matching up against him, hopefully Mario Chalmers and Co. can keep him contained.
  • Down low, DeMarre Carroll leads the Tigers with 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds. He is arguably the best low-post player we have seen yet this season, considering we never really "saw" Blake Griffin thanks to his knee injury, and it will be good to see how well Darrell, Sasha and Darnell play defense against DeMarre. By the way, on a completely unrelated note, what kind of name is DeMarre. I'm all for originality and everything when naming children, but somewhere between Steve and DeMarre there is a happy medium. You don't have to go that crazy on me.
In all honesty, I don't expect this to be much of a contest. To the small handful of people who actually have ESPNU and are watching tonight's game, which does include me, have fun regaining a small fraction of Border War bragging rights in a flat-out blowout in Columbia tonight.

Prediction coming later in the Open Game Thread, but I don't expect it to be close much longer than the first half.