Missouri opens the home portion of their conference schedule against a long time annoyance, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Ever since Mike Anderson’s arrival in Columbia, he’s been unable to consistently beat the Huskers, despite almost always having a considerable talent advantage. Coming off a real tough loss to Colorado in Boulder, Missouri really needs to get a win, and there might not be a worse team for them to face than the Huskers. For Nebraska though, they have a chance to improve to 2-0 in conference play, though it will be quite a tall task.
Doc Sadler has always seemed to have Mike Anderson’s number, especially so in the Big 12 conference tournament, and that has to concern the Tigers. What won’t concern Mizzou, for what seems like the first time in a decade, is former Husker guard Ryan Anderson, who finally used up his eligibility last season.
Just because Anderson is gone doesn’t mean that Nebraska isn’t the same team they always are. Defensively solid, if not brilliant at times, while doing just enough on offense to make it a game at the end. They’ll do the best they can to slow down the pace of the game, something they’ve done time and time again the past four years.
Pace vs. Pace
Mizzou wants to run, and get the score in the 70s or 80s. Nebraska has no problem playing in the 50s and 60s, which makes them a perfect fit for the Big 10. If Mizzou can rope Nebraska into a running game, things can come rather easily for them. If not, expect another slow, physical, defensive struggle. Not that Mizzou can’t win that kind of game, they can, but an open game, featuring lots of quick shots, clearly favors them more.
Mizzou Arena has become one of the best home courts in the conference over the last few seasons. The Tigers’ style of play feeds the crowd, and in turn the crowd feeds the Tigers’ play. Nebraska has to keep the crowd out of it.
Missouri has the advantage behind the arc as well. Marcus Denmon and Kim English are both above average three-point shooters. Mike Dixon is very good from distance as well.
They’ve beaten Missouri before, and have proven to be unique in their ability to avoid playing at a fast pace. This game would be even more up for grabs if it were being playing in Omaha, but it’s not.
Keys to Victory: Missouri
Get Nebraska to run, if only so they are worn out at the end. Have a third perimeter scorer step up besides Denmon and Dixon. Control the paint with Bowers and Ratliffe.
Keys to Victory: Nebraska
Slow the game down to a crawl, make some threes, feed Jorge Brian-Diaz early and often. If Diaz can get the Missouri big men in foul trouble, the paint will open up for Nebraska’s guards to try and penetrate.
Missouri’s talent is greater, so is their depth. I fully expect Mizzou to get sucked into a slower pace game, and there will probably be 36 very ugly minutes of basketball, before Missouri pulls away at the end. Falling 0-2 in conference, against two of the lower teams in the league, simply isn’t an option for a team with championship aspirations.
Nebraska cannot shoot the three like they could the last few years, which will hurt them if Missouri gets on one of their patented runs. Combine that with Mizzou Arena, and I think Nebraska falls just short.
Mizzou 65 Nebraska 58