With Missouri releasing their season non-conference schedule, we’re taking a brief look at each of their opponents. You can catch up with the previous posts in the series here:
After an intense buildup to Bragging Rights, Missouri will need the exact opposite of that experience for their next home game, right?
Well, either way, that’s about what they’re going to get. Game number 11 will see the Tigers return home for a post-Christmas/pre-New Year respite with a contest against Chicago State. The Cougars have been a part of the Western Athletic Conference for seven seasons now, and their best season was the first one when they went 8-8. Since then it’s been ugly, including two winless seasons.
The year before last the school moved on from Tracy Dildy — father of former Kim Anderson Assistant Coach Emannuel Dildy — after eight seasons. The last three of those years the Cougars went 2-40 (!) in conference play.
Chicago State Cougars
Last season: 3-29, 351 in KenPom
Torvik Projection: 341
Head Coach: Lance Irvin
Irvin is a Chicago native, and... check this... a former Missouri assistant coach! Yes. It’s true!
In the fated 2005-06 season, Irvin was on the bench for the end of the Quin Snyder era and for the short lived Melvin Watkins era. Irvin is a well known name in the Chicago-land area— they are basketball royalty there— and one familiar to Mizzou fans. Lance’s brother Byron is a name familiar to everyone here (hint: he played for Missouri in the late 1980s), and if you’re familiar with the Mac Irvin Fire, it was the patriarch of the family who started one of the most iconic grassroots AAU basketball programs in the country.
Lance Irvin has been a journeyman as a coach. He was on the sidelines at DePaul, Loyola-Chicago, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Illinois State, SMU and Southern Illinois. But leading Chicago State is a tough gig. They’re the low peg on the totem pole in the city of Chicago.
RETURNING PLAYERS OF NOTE:
- Christian Jacob: 40.1% %min, 10.9 ppg
- Travon Bell: 61.5% %min, 9.3 ppg
- Cameron Bowles: 67.2% %min, 8.8 ppg
Irvin at least brings back three of his top five scorers. The Western Athletic Conference is a bit of a weird conference that maybe the Cougars start to put things together and move up the chain a little bit.
But teams like Chicago State usually have to set up a brutal schedule to make sure the athletic department keeps on humming along. And with Florida State, Purdue, and Missouri all lined up, the likelihood for a brutal non-conference slate leading to a slow start which parlays into a rough conference slate is hard to shake.
Missouri shouldn’t have much trouble with Chicago State, even on a bad night for the Tigers and a good one for the Cougars. This is one of those games which shows up in KenPom at around 97% for Missouri to win. The Tigers should win and move on, and Chicago State will collect a check and hope a struggling program can find its footing in year two of a new coach taking over the program.