Mizzou will win again. Whether or not the win happens in the next eight weeks of the season is certainly another question and that is kind of terrifying. We pride ourselves at being analytical here but sports are an emotional experience and the emotions of Missouri basketball fans are in the storm drain... if you strain, you can still see some light outside but you’re just ankle deep in dirty water, leaves, a plastic shopping bag and something mushy you can’t quite identify but don’t really want to know what it is.
It’s difficult right now to garner any sort of excitement for watching Mizzou basketball. I watched (most of) the Auburn game with a sort of malaise or indifference. I was barely interested in the product on the TV, and if Baylor-WVU or Villanova-Xavier been more competitive I probably would have left the Tiger-Tiger matchup in the dust.
I’m not alone either, the announced crowd was just over 5,000 and reports said that estimate was generous. The game thread garnered a mere 44 comments, and I even read a comment on the Links post the next day where someone didn’t realize there was a game.
Things are bad. Very bad. And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Mizzou goes on the road for its next two games and faces Arkansas (Mizzou has a 9% chance to win), and Alabama (15%). The Tigers will return home to face Ole Miss (42%) before another road trip to Mississippi State (20% chance). Combined, that’s a 36% chance of going 0-4, and that includes two of the most winnable remaining games.
Six teams from the six high-major conferences are under .500: Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, DePaul, St. John's, Oregon State— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) January 11, 2017
Currently at 184 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, Missouri joins Oregon State (250) as the two worst power conference teams in the country. They’re the two lowest ranked and they’re the only two to have not beaten another power conference team.
0-18 and 5-26 are scary numbers. Analytics say Mizzou will get a few wins along the way, that at some point the odds will break their way and they’ll win a game. But look at the schedule, and it gets very hard to see where the wins come in.
The last three games since Kim Anderson made his lineup changes, the Tigers have been more... eh, competitive. Their point totals have gone up, but those efforts have been against two of the three worst teams in the SEC, only one of which they see again.
LSU, the 13th best team in the SEC, got B-L-A-S-T-E-D on the road against a very average Texas A&M team. Johnny Jones has led his Tigers to one SEC win so far, against Mizzou. Auburn, probably the 12th best team in the SEC, has etched one SEC win so far this season, against Mizzou.
You go around the SEC and the league isn’t good (outside of Kentucky, Florida and I’ll be nice and include South Carolina). Every team has enormous flaws and on most nights look terrible, but they’re all better and more consistent than Mizzou.
Alabama isn’t good but has started SEC play 2-1 with wins over Vandy and Mississippi State. The Tide’s next three games are against LSU, Missouri and Auburn. You have to figure they are eyeing a 5-1 start to league play, so a home let down to the Tigers seems unlikely. Ole Miss is actually pretty good offensively, something Mizzou isn’t. Mississippi State on the road? South Carolina at home (hey, it happened last year, right?)? On the road at Florida? I mean, the schedule is doing Mizzou no favors.
So yes, things are bad. It’s hard to see them getting better. All the team has to do is find a way to keep fighting and then hope a few guys get hot for an entire game instead of just a half or a short stretch of a half.
Seeing more of K.J. Walton and Jordan Barnett gives a glimmer of hope. Walton is up over a double digit average in the last three games, and Barnett has been averaging 17.6 points and 8.3 rebounds over the same span. Terrence Phillips seems to be playing a little better. If Mizzou could get Kevin Puryear going after a couple rough games, who knows... right?