We’ll have one more Rock-M-Tology coming for your consumption shortly. But first, a few words about this year.
It’s now been a full year of living with the Coronavirus, and it’s obviously impacted everything. We’re over 530,000 dead, and we stubbornly limped along treating it more like an inconvenience than a deadly virus. I consider myself very lucky. I work in IT, and I’m able to work from home and my exposure in the last 12 months has been incredibly limited. I’m also in a group not widely considered to be high risk (sure I could stand to lose a few pounds, but you all know I like my whiskey).
The impact to my overall life has been relatively low. I don’t get to see my parents — although they’ve received their first vaccine dose, so that’s a positive — or go out to eat, which is something we love doing. But me and my wife also like being at home, with our dogs. So overall, not a ton of impact, more of an inconvenience.
But think about being 20 years old.
Think about being asked to do all this. To forgo friends, and parties. To suit up and practice and work hard and keep your distance. Dress up for games and play for a large audience... of people watching on TV.
It has to be an incredibly difficult year for these players. The offseason was thrown out the window (which ironically probably gave Mizzou an early leg up), the preseason was lengthened as the start of the season was delayed. And then the non-conference schedule was scrapped and rebuilt, cutting at least a few warm up games.
The results for everyone were mixed. Results were all over the place. There were huge swings in momentum within games, much less within the seasons. And through it all Missouri persevered.
The Tigers were largely forgotten in the preseason, picked 10th in the SEC, but surged with a 6-0 start to the non-conference schedule. The marquee win over Illinois was backed up by a neutral court win over Oregon, a road win over Wichita State, and a nerve-wracking comeback win over Bradley.
The highlights of the non-conference led to some lowlights in conference play. But the Tigers still found ways to bounce back. They followed an embarrassing home spanking by Tennessee with a tough road win over Arkansas. After getting smacked in the second half in Starkville, Mizzou recovered and won three in a row, including a revenge win at Tennessee.
The remainder of the season has been a give and take, and they haven’t finished as strong as you’d like. But the fun of the NCAA tournament is anything is possible. Coaches will tell you to fall in love with practice, but the reason you fall in love with practice is to play in games, and the reason Division 1 basketball players play all those games is to get to the NCAA tournament.
For many players today, that dream will come true. For Missouri, everyone except Jeremiah Tilmon will see their team called for the first time (technically Mitchell Smith too, but he was redshirting, so just stick with me here). That’s 12 scholarship players realizing a dream today.
Enjoy the moment, guys.
Yesterday was kinda fun, even without Mizzou’s participation
- Your ACC Champions: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Face Shields are cool)
- Your Pac12 Champions: Oregon State Beavers
- Your Big East Champions: Georgetown Hoyas (Patrick EWING!)
- Your Big 12 Champions: Texas Longhorns (yay for Courtney?)
- Your Mountain West Champions: San Diego State Aztecs
- Your Conference USA Champions: North Texas Mean Green (hi, Wren!)
- Your MEAC Champions: Norfolk State Spartans... heh
- Your American East Champions: Hartford Hawks
- Your MAAC Champions: Iona Gaels (welcome back, Rick)
- Your MAC Champions: Ohio Bobcats
- Your Big Sky Champions: Eastern Washington Eagles
- Your SWAC Champions: Texas Southern Tigers (remember Johnny Jones?)
- Your Southland Champions: Abilene Christian Wildcats
- Your WAC Champions: Grand Canyon Antelopes (lol Bryce Drew!)
Playing for Auto bids today:
- Patriot League: Loyola (MD) vs Colgate — 11am on CBS Sports Network
- Atlantic 10: VCU vs St. Bonaventure — 12pm on CBS
- Southeastern Conference: Louisiana State vs Alabama — 12pm on ESPN
- American: Cincinnati vs Houston — 2:15pm on ESPN
- Big 10: Ohio State vs Illinois — 2:30pm on CBS
Enjoy the day everyone, we’ll have coverage later when the pairings are announced.