The Missouri Tigers and Nebraska Cornhuskers meet tonight in a pivotal game for both teams.
Mizzou is fighting for a first round Big 12 Tournament bye, and while they have all but guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament, losing tonight could drop their seeding down a few notches, making their path to the Final Four more difficult.
For Nebraska, the sky seemed the limit a week ago. They beat the previously undefeated Texas Longhorns and were riding a three game winning streak heading into winnable games in Lincoln versus a K-State team nobody knew was as hot as they were/are and at an Iowa State team that had one conference victory.
Then the wheels fell off the Cornhusker bandwagon. A four point loss to K-State and an overtime loss to the Cyclones has left the Huskers at 6-8 in conference and very much on the outside of the NCAA tournament bubble.
But NU isn't suffering through another lost season. Beating Mizzou tonight, a hated rival for as long as most can remember, would help at least give them something to go on into the conference tournament and most likely the NIT.
Mizzou also has something to overcome - besides starting a losing streak this late into the season. Mizzou's biggest weakness has been playing against teams less athletic than they are. Those types of teams, the exact definition of this Corn team, slow the games down and turn Mizzou into a half court team. While they aren't at their worst in half court sets, Mizzou would much rather be running up and down the court, tiring out the opposition while going for the jugular late in games. With the style of offense Nebraska runs, Mizzou generally can't get into their normal rhythm and often times loses to teams with less talent. Case in point was the first round of the Big 12 tournament last season, when a 2-conference-win Nebraksa team held a lifeless Mizzou squad to 60 points in a first round Big 12 tournament stunner.
Tonight's game should be different though. We've already seen the best Nebraska has peaked and is on the decline while Mizzou is winners of four of their last five.
Game tips tonight from Lincoln at 7:00 p.m. CT and can be seen on ESPN3.com.
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