They are a collective 7-0, but this will be the first true test for either the Missouri Tigers or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish when they square off in the semifinal game of the CBE Classic from Kansas City, MO.
With an undersized team, mainly playing in a four guard set, Missouri has been using sharp shooting to cruise through their first three games, hitting on 29 of 60 (48.3%) from behind the arc, good for seventh nationally.
Notre Dame has won their four games without Tim Abromaitis, their second leading scorer last season. Abromaitis was suspended for violation of the NCAA rules governing redshirting and was forced to sit for the first four games after playing in two exhibition games to start the 2008-09 season. According to NCAA rules, only freshman can play in exhibition games before redshirting and part of the NCAAs agreement to grant Abromaitis a fifth year was for him to sit to start this season.
Abromaitis should be able to control this game with his inside-outside play. He is 2 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Mizzou's Kim English and can play further outside than equally sized Ricardo Rattliffe's comfort zone, so he is a matchup nightmare for the Tigers.
The key to this one - and probably every big time Mizzou game forward - will be Mizzou's guards. If they can continue to hit open shots then the Tigers could beat most teams on most nights. But we all know that when teams who rely too heavily on outside shooting get cold, the results can be disastrous.
One thing that I've noticed thus far with Mizzou is that they are passing the ball around the perimeter, but aren't doing much dribble-drive penetration, and the stats show it. You'd think that a guard heavy offense with a spark plug like Phil Pressey would utilize whatever it could to find an open man, and dribble-drive would collapse the D, leaving Kim English, Marcus Denmon or another of the Tiger sharpshooters open on the wing. Maybe it is the level of competition they have been playing, maybe it is their hot shooting, but that is something the Tigers could utilize to their advantage at some point... maybe tonight?