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Workable is the term du jour for the middle of the non-conference slate

Temple, UCF, and UT-Arlington should provide some resistance.

If you missed it already we did a preview of the early season non-conference slate a couple weeks ago. And with me heading off the Florida last week these pieces go put on pause. But since I’m back in Missouri we can now rejoin the regularly scheduled programming of taking a quick look at each of the already announced non-conference slate before Football hits full swing.

With Central Arkansas, Iowa State, Kennesaw State (plus, Old Dominion, Oregon State and others from the Paradise Jam) behind us, let’s look at the next group of teams on the schedule.

November 27 vs Temple

NCAA Basketball: Temple at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  • Conference: American
  • Last season: 17-16
  • 2018 KenPom: 86
  • Head Coach: Fran Dunphy, 13th season

This is a nice late addition for the Tigers. After not being able to get the dates to work with a home date against Utah, Mizzou pivoted and found a match with the Temple Owls. The Owls should have a decent enough RPI that even a home win will look pretty good on the resume.

Last season the Owls struggled early in the conference slate but the good news for Coach Dunphy, who enters his 13th season in Philly, is he returns a lot of production from a team that figured out it’s identity later as the season wore on. With their top two returning scorers coming back in Shizz Alston and and Quinton Rose, the Owls should be a tough matchup at the point guard and wing spot. But inside Mizzou should be able to beat up on the smaller Owls.

December 2 vs UCF

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Central Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • Conference: American
  • Last season: 19-13
  • 2018 KenPom: 111
  • Head Coach: Johnny Dawkins, 3rd season

Last season Mizzou went on the road and squeaked out a win in a low possession game against a UCF squad still trying to find an identity under second year head coach Johnny Dawkins. This season the Knights travel to Columbia with Tacko Fall, all 7’6” of him, in tow.

The Knights dropped a few too many road games which caused their stock to drop enough to not even warrant a consideration for the NCAA tournament. But this season they’ll bring back B.J. Taylor who missed the Mizzou game with an injury, and was a steadying presence on offense. I’d expect Missouri to have the upper hand at home, but the Knights should be an improved team from a season ago.

December 4 vs UT-Arlington

NCAA Basketball: Texas-Arlington at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
  • Conference: Sun Belt
  • Last season: 21-13
  • 2018 KenPom: 128
  • Head Coach: Chris Ogden, 1st season

Sometimes you need to know who you are. UT-Arlington’s Athletic Director seemed to struggle with this idea this past offseason when he fired Scott Cross, an alumni who’d been at the helm for 12 seasons and had won 20 games in three straight seasons. For reference, the number of 20 win seasons at Arlington before Cross took over as coach: two.

Cross was, by far, the most successful coach in program history and had been linked to bigger and better jobs throughout his tenure. Only to return to his alma mater each time. But that wasn’t good enough. So the Mavericks are starting over with new head coach Chris Ogden, was was a player at Texas from 1999 to 2003, an last held an assistant job at Texas Tech. There’s no real telling what you’ll get from UTA but we know their top five players last year all graduated. New names, new roster, new coach.

We’ve still got four more games to look at. But all three of these games should be wins for the Tigers. They’re at home and against teams who finished behind them in KenPom a year ago. It’s the next group of games where things might get dicey.