We're going to learn a lot about both the Missouri Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners when the two tip off in Columbia tonight in the conference opener for both teams. Both teams have been accused of a bit of smoke and mirrors this season, despite going a collective 23-2 during non-conference play.
Mizzou (13-0) is ranked 6th in the nation, but hasn't beaten a team currently ranked in the top 25 and, according to Jeff Sagrain, has a Strength of Schedule of 327 out of 345 D1 teams. The Tigers' marquee wins have been a 39-point beat down of then #18 Cal and a narrow 4-point victory against then ranked #24 Illinois... both of whom are now unranked.
Oklahoma (10-2) has an SOS of 269 with bedpost notches against Oral Roberts, Arkansas and Houston. Their two losses have come against underrated Saint Louis and an undermanned Cincinnati team.
A lot of comparisons can be made between OU's loss to Cincy and this game tonight. First, because of suspensions, Cincy was undermanned down low and OU took advantage, as Romero Osby pulled down 12 boards, and Andrew Fitzgerald grabbed 9. And because of the interior dominance, Cincy was forced to take 30 three-point shots and it wasn't until they started pressuring full court that OU's lead evaporated.
This Mizzou team is built like that Cincy team, with an undersized front court and an affinity for the three ball. Mizzou also has the athleticism and talent to speed up the game and pick the Sooners up full court, so I suspect a little of last season's 40 Minutes of Hell will come out tonight, as Mizzou coach Frank Haith and his staff undoubtedly broke down the Cincy game.
For OU to win they'll need to slow the game down, take time off the clock and pound it inside. While Mizzou's Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore have been consistent in the low post, they haven't really faced a frontcourt like they will through Big 12 play, and tonight they'll get a taste of what it wil be like to bang down there this season.
If this is the blowout Vegas is predicting (Mizzou is -12.5) then maybe it will OU who is exposed as a fraud, but if they can keep it close and low scoring, then it might be Mizzou who we all overrated.