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Mizzou vs Central Missouri - What to watch for in an exhibition game

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Real basketball starts tonight for the Tigers, but the game doesn’t count. What you should be looking for as Missouri is likely to win by a lot.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Missouri Timothy Tai-USA TODAY Sports

When Missouri takes on Central Missouri tonight in it’s season opener it’s not going to count. Exhibition games are one of those things that exist and we’re not really sure why, but here we are anyway. These games are considered tune-ups for the season which starts next weekend. It’s a chance to play with your rotation, get a lot of guys minutes and generally tinker without the concern of losing the game.

Step 1. Don’t lose the game

Central Missouri had a bit of a down season last year, finishing around .500, but traditionally the Mules are pretty good. I mean they won’t a National Championship a few years ago, don’t know if you’d heard about it. Even if the Mules play well, this shouldn’t be a game. The Mules lost their first exhibition contest of the season against Arkansas by 27 points. This is about the expected spread for a Division 2 team playing a power 5 opponent. You are likely to go deeper into your bench than playing this game straight up, but this should still be a blowout win.

Don’t let the game be close, otherwise you’ll have a lot of people around the country pointing to the box score and laughing. It almost happened to Washington last night.

Step 2. Don’t get anyone hurt

This is true of both teams. You don’t want anyone sustaining any injuries playing in exhibition.

Step 3. Confidence for the young guys

Getting them out on the court early and often against a lesser opponent will hopefully help them build up some confidence. Look for Kim Anderson to start with his vets, but to sub early and sub often. The more you see guys like Mitchell Smith, Frankie Hughes and Willie Jackson playing the better things are going. You want them out and playing well and putting distance between them and the Mules.

Step 4. Win with precision

It’s easy when you’re a power conference team, even at Missouri where there are low expectations for success this season. Missouri can simply beat Central Missouri by overwhelming them. Mizzou has better players and better athletes and they can win solely on those things, but you want to see something else. You want to see ball movement so excellent that is forces defensive breakdowns and gives the offense easy baskets. You want to see defense so stout that it pushes the offense out of position and forces bad shots. You want to see a very high Assist to turnover ratio. These are the marks of a team that is preparing for tougher competition.

Step 5. Enjoy Live Competition again

This is as much for the fans as it is the players. Sports are supposed to be fun. I’m excited basketball is back. I’m excited to see what this team can do. Even if they’re terrible, I’m excited I get to watch any basketball again. If they’re surpassing expectations, even better. But I intend to have fun.

Feel free to use this as a live thread for the game tonight as SBNation doesn’t provide game threads for exhibition games.