The 2020-2021 Mizzou Basketball team was picked to finish 10th in the SEC, and not many people expected them to be much better than a .500 team.
However, that all changed when the Tigers rattled off win after win early in the season. They took down tournament teams like Oregon, Wichita St, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama. But recently the Tigers season has hit a roadblock.
They seem to be stuck in a rut of playing to the level of their competition. They pull games out in which they are underdogs, and they lose games they should win. Naturally, this has led to more complaints from a fanbase that thought their Tigers could be a 2-seed just a couple of weeks ago.
However, I think it’s important to remember the state of the Tiger basketball program over the last few years. Prior to this year, the Tigers had just one season with a winning record since Frank Haith left his position as head coach. They have made the big dance only one time in that period.
Both of those streaks will come to a halt this year.
They’ll also get the chance to do something the Tigers haven’t accomplished since 2010; they can win a tournament game.
I know fan confidence is currently at a low for this season, but it seems like Tiger fans forget too many of the highs this team has achieved when any lows come.
Obviously, losing on Senior Night to a LSU team of comparable abilities isn’t what you would hope from a team that is supposed to be getting ready to make a postseason run, but forgetting that just a couple of days earlier the same team went into an opposing team’s gym and won a game against an NCAA tournament-caliber team (Florida) is being a slave to the present.
No, the Tigers aren’t playing as good of basketball heading into March as fans would hope, but they are playing the best basketball this program has seen in years. They achieved their first top-10 ranking since 2013, they beat Illinois in Braggin’ Rights for the third straight time, they have road wins against what will be multiple high-seeded NCAA teams, and most importantly, they revived a basketball program that had been mostly dormant for the good part of the last 7 years.
It’s very probable that Jeremiah Tilmon, Dru Smith, Xavier Pinson, Mark Smith, and Mitchell Smith never take the floor at Mizzou Arena again, and next year Cuonzo Martin will most likely have to start from scratch once more. But in the few remaining games that core has, they still have a chance to do something in March that hasn’t been done for a very long time in Columbia, so why not keep the faith and see what happens. It is March, after all, and anything is possible.