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Missouri was again denied a spot in Big 12/SEC Challenge. This time it actually mattered a little.

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Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Mizzou’s basketball future has taken a stark, 180-degree turn over the previous two or three months. To put it bluntly, the Tigers have a future again. But supposedly their recent awful past is keeping them out of this winter’s Big 12/SEC challenge.

The 10 SEC teams selected for the Jan. 27, 2018, slate of games will be the same 10 teams chosen for the Big 12/SEC Challenge during the 2018-19 season. That leaves four SEC teams out of the annual event for the next two seasons: Auburn, Louisiana State, Mississippi State and MU.

Those four just happen to be the four teams that finished with the worst conference records in the SEC this past season.

When a 14-team conference is taking on a 10-team conference, obviously some cuts need to be made. And lopping off the four teams at the bottom is certainly the surest way to ensure quality matchups. Over the last couple of years, non-inclusion in this series hasn’t exactly rankled Mizzou fans.

Then again...

But league standings aren’t the only factor that decides the matchups, the SEC confirmed Thursday.

“Last season’s results are just one of several factors that are taken into consideration by the conference office and ESPN when selecting the participants in the Challenge,” SEC spokesman Craig Pinkerton said in an email. Pinkerton declined to elaborate on other factors that decide the matchups.

That’s a pretty significant hedge. Because, with this being a televised event, and with Mizzou being in possession of the No. 1 freshman in the country for next year, a suddenly decent Mizzou potentially playing a former conference mate ... well ... that would seem to have a bit of a TV draw, yes? Alas.

Also:

Mizzou athletic director Jim Sterk put out a diplomatic statement on the snub.

“The SEC, working with the event’s television partner, ESPN, annually selects the teams that will represent our conference in the Challenge, and one of the key factors in determining the SEC’s entrants is a program’s recent on-court performance, which is certainly understandable,” Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said in a statement. “I can say with confidence that Mizzou Basketball will have several opportunities to play quality non-conference opponents in future years—home, away and at neutral sites.”

Friend-of-Rock-M-Nation Carrington Harrison, meanwhile, tossed some red meat to the crowd.

Ahh, that’s the stuff.

I don’t even really care that Mizzou didn’t draw Kansas in this thing. It’s blatantly obvious where things stand with that rivalry — Kansas will now have played Texas A&M, Colorado, and Nebraska in basketball while continuing to claim that Mizzou “forfeited” the right to continue the rivalry by leaving the conference and threatening its future. We know who’s pulling the strings (or, I guess, keeping them from being pulled). The commitment to pettiness is admirable, frankly, but clearly this all rests on KU’s shoulders. Whatever.

But again, for an event you’re hoping draws neutral eyes on national television, a late-January contest against another former Big 8/12 rival — Kansas State? Iowa State? Oklahoma State? — sounded pretty fun. I expected it to happen, and I’m surprised they didn’t work that out. They’re a lot more confident in the drawing power of a Kansas State-Georgia matchup than I am, I guess.


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