A week ago, we were talking about Mizzou sewing up an at-large bid. Tonight, they’re clawing to stay off the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble.
On paper, this is a game Mizzou should win. If we moved the venue to a neutral floor or played it in Columbia, the Tigers would be better than a five-point favorite. But Vegas and KenPom both have it rated as close to a toss-up as possible. That’s life on the road in the SEC this season, where leaving your own building is a perilous adventure.
We can debate the root causes of MU’s recent plight, but one number sums it up: 330. That’s Mizzou’s ranking in performance consistency, per Haslam Metrics. Simply put, Mizzou is erratic. If you read Bill C. and Study Hall, that much is clear. Poor ball-handling and a reliance on outside shooting create lots of volatility — man, we’ve beat that word to death this year — night in and night out.
Jordan Barnett can dominate one half and disappear into the ether after halftime. Jeremiah Tilmon’s foul woes can limit his availability and rob MU of a post asset whose touches generate back line defensive rotations that Mizzou’s wings can’t create off the dribble. A handy signpost is Jontay Porter’s stat line. If he fills up the box score, Mizzou typically has a good night.
By now, we know this team’s flaws. The question is whether the body of work they’ve put together can withstand them down the stretch. This week, The Athletic’s Seth Davis published anonymous scouting reports ($) from coaches inside various conferences. Here’s how an SEC coach described MU.
Yeah. Sounds about right.
During the preseason, we talked about how Cuonzo Martin was trying to evolve, playing with more pace and fluidity. Obviously, circumstances forced him to revert — at least in terms of pace — to what’s familiar. That’s defense. It’s rebounding. At times, it’s doing just enough to keep the game winnable. This season, the byproduct has been a ton of nailbiters, often decided by whether Missouri can hold on to the ball and sink its free throws.
And at this point, it’s unlikely to change, barring Michael Porter Jr. rapidly acclimating to game speed down the stretch.
February has encapsulated this team perfectly. The only question is whether it can overcome its flaws for one more week and secure a pair of vital wins. That starts tonight in Nashville.
Enjoy this beautiful display. pic.twitter.com/0blEzrOPZq— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 25, 2018
- Preview | Vanderbilt can’t stop anyone but will try to derail Missouri’s tournament push
- The Watch | Keep an eye out for Mississippi State this week
- Recap | Mizzou drops its third straight game
- Study Hall | Kentucky 87, Missouri 66
- Thoughts | A perfect storm hit Mizzou in Lexington
- Dive Cuts | Who do we like in the race for SEC Coach of the Year?
Opponent: Vanderbilt Commodores (11-18, 5-11 SEC)
Time: 6 p.m. CT
Where: Memorial Gymnasium; Nashville, Tenn.
Is Mizzou Receiving Top 25 Votes? Nope.
What Does Vegas Say? Vanderbilt -1.5, O/U 142.5
What Does KenPom Say? Mizzou 73, Vanderbilt 72 (Win expectancy: 53 percent)
Where To Watch: ESPN2/Watch ESPN app
Radio: Tiger Radio Network // Sirius/XM -119/199
Facebook: Mizzou Men’s Basketball
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
- Do we see Michael Porter Jr. tonight? If so, for how many minutes?
- Which will be higher: Mizzou’s turnover count or the number of made Vandy 3-pointers?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how nervous are you?
- (not a question but...) Predict the score!
- Who is your trifecta?
Multiple scouts and NBA executives in Nashville today. The thought being MPJ will see the floor in some capacity tonight. Majority of NBA personnel around the league are following MPJ the rest of the season, regardless of when he sees the floor. They’ve seen everyone else.— Jarrett Sutton (@JarrettTSutton) February 27, 2018
No Porter in the starting five. Not a shock. But until he plays, the mundane is worthy of an update.
Welp. False Alarm.
BREAKING: Michael Porter Jr. is NOT in uniform for tonight's game. In sweats.— Alex Schiffer (@TheSchiffMan) February 27, 2018