When Mizzou Basketball’s non-conference schedule I started a short-quick breakdown of each team on the slate. Obviously we’ll dive deeper into the opponents as they come along, but for now we can at least get an idea of who Missouri will be facing.
Before diving in, make sure you read up on the previous posts:
December 7 vs Oral Roberts
- Conference: Summit
- Last season: 11-21
- 2018 KenPom: 235
- Head Coach: Paul Mills, 2nd season
In 1999 Oral Roberts hired Scott Sutton to coach their basketball team and for the next 18 years Sutton strolled the sidelines and kept the Golden Eagles competitive most years, including 14 winning seasons. Sutton was the winningest coach in ORU history and now Paul Mills takes over after helping Scott Drew rebuild and sustain the program at Baylor.
Year one didn’t go well as the Eagles struggled to stop anyone defensively only managing to slow the pace of play to a near halt. Depth was an issue for ORU last year but they were mostly young. This year they’ll march into Columbia with a roster made up mostly of underclassmen and just one senior. Junior forward Emmanuel Nzekwesi returns after leading the team in scoring a year ago, but only one of the next four leading scorers return with him.
You’d have to expect in year two ORU will improve with what Mills is trying to accomplish with his own guys. Still, this should be a Missouri win.
Dec 18 vs Xavier
- Conference: Big East
- Last season: 29-6
- 2018 KenPom: 15
- Head Coach: Travis Steele, 1st season
The program that keeps on churning no matter who is at the reigns has a new head coach in long time Chris Mack assistant Travis Steele. If you follow recruiting you’ll notice that several Missouri recruits are also being recruited by the Musketeers, as Mack worked his program from a solid Mid-Major+ school to one who secured a one seed in last years NCAA tournament before bolting for the Louisville job.
While the Musketeers move on without Mack, as well as J.P. Macura, Trevon Blueitt, Sean O’Mara, and Kerem Kanter. They’ll still be tough as Steele went out and secured just about every available grad transfer to fill in a lineup already brimming with young talent like Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, and Quentin Goodin. Goodin should be one of the more exciting players in the Big East this season, and he’ll be joined by graduate transfers Kyle Castlin (Columbia), Ryan Welage (San Jose State), and Zach Hankins (Ferris State).
This game is a home game for the Tigers and should be a very tough game to win.
Dec 22 vs Illinois (Braggin’ Rights)
- Conference: Big 10
- Last season: 14-18
- 2018 KenPom: 102
- Head Coach: Brad Underwood, 2nd season
In what turned out to be an ugly loss for the Tigers last year, they looked completely unprepared for what turned out to be a pretty terrible Illinois team. This year the Illini still have a bit of a makeshift roster but it’s one which is the opposite of the Tigers again. They’re small with a truckload of ball handlers and virtually no depth on the interior. If you merged these two teams they could probably be pretty frightening.
On the inside the Illini have a grad transfer from Kent State named Adonis De La Rosa and four freshmen, Samba Kane, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Anthony Higgs, and Tevian Jones. They bring back Trent Frazier, Kipper Nichols, and Da’monte Williams and import Andres Feliz and Ayo Dusunmu into a solid back court. Overall it looks to be a mostly rocky season again in Champaign but the Illini should be improved. And if last years game was any indicator that by no means assures Missouri a win in the Braggin’ Rights game.
Dec 29 vs Morehead State
- Conference: Ohio Valley
- Last season: 8-21
- 2018 KenPom: 273
- Head Coach: Preston Spradlin, 3rd season
Last season the Eagles struggled offensively, weren’t great on defense and limped to an ugly record. It was just a year before however Morehead State had gone 10 straight seasons without a losing record in Conference play. That may not impress most people playing in the Ohio Valley Conference but when you’re a school that rarely keeps coaches for very long if they have success, it’s saying something.
Donnie Tyndall started the run, and former Kentucky Wildcat Sean Woods kept it going before resigning after strangely assaulting a couple of his players following an early season loss. Preston Spradling took over and did a nice job of finishing out the season with a 10-6 mark in conference.
The Eagles could be improved this season as they return several of their top scorers, but improvement should be moderate at best.
So there you have the full schedule. Here’s the breakdown in one place:
Missouri Non-Conference Schedule
|Nov 6||Home||Central Arkansas||213||W|
|Nov 9||Road||Iowa State||103||L|
|Nov 16||Neutral||Kennesaw State||309||W|
|Dec 7||Home||Oral Roberts||236||W|
|Dec 29||Home||Morehead State||273||W|
I expect the top of the SEC to be better than last year, but if Missouri can navigate this schedule and get out with only 3 losses, they have a realistic path to an NCAA bid. Two losses likely solidifies a potential tourney bid, and if they can get through with just one loss they’d basically have to bomb the SEC slate to stay out of the tournament. There are enough pot holes in here though and the Tigers pop a flat, just to finish the metaphor.
They should be reasonably challenged in seven of the 12 games. It’ll be an interesting few months to say the least.