When the season began I had this game circled. Not just because I live in Denver and am planning on going to the game, but because I thought that both the Missouri Tigers and Colorado Buffaloes were destined for the NCAA tournament.
Well, I was half right.
Mizzou looks to be a sure fire NCAA lock. At 14-1 and ranked 8th in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, anything short of a monumental collapse means that it is just a matter of where the Tigers are seeded, not if they will be seeded.
The Buffs (11-4), on the other hand, have been overwhelmingly disappointing this season, or maybe my expectations were too high. Though a 6-10 conference mark last season wouldn't resonate with most fans, the fact that CU rose from a 1-15 clip the season before left Buff fans wanting more. With conference Freshman of the Year, Alec Burks, and his running mate Cory Higgins returning, it seemed as if their ceiling was as high as some CU undergrads.
But again it could have just been me. The Big 12 coaches pegged CU as the ninth best team in the league, and that is pretty much where they stand heading into conference play. Marcus Relphorde and Levi Knutson have played good auxiliary roles, while Austin Dufault and Andre Roberson are cleaning up the glass. The problem in Boulder, though, is their lack of defense. They are simply allowing too many points to be scored against them, and though they have scoring talent, their players can't match opponents basket for basket.
And that should make Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Mike Dixon's collective mouthes water. Along with Laurence Bowers and Ricardo Ratliffe, the Tigers have five guys averaging double in figures. And if you look down the bench, you'll see five other guys ready to go at any time. The fact that Mizzou has ten guys who average 10+ minutes of playing time per game really says something about the frenetic style of play that the Tigers bring.
When playing in the Mile High altitude of Boulder, you will constantly need fresh bodies, and Mizzou can provide fresh legs when their starters need a breather.
So while I originally had this one circled, I am less excited about it than when I first read the schedule.I wouldn't be shocked, though, to see a really competitive game between two teams that will be playing at the Coors Events Center for the final regular time.
The game tips at 12:30 p.m. CT and is available on ESPN3.com.