Missouri will face their second Ohio Valley Conference opponent early this evening when they take on Lindenwood University. The Lions were a part of a group of three teams (Southern Indiana & Arkansas Little-Rock) who made the move to the OVC starting in the 2022-2023 season.
Lindenwood and Southern Indiana are unique in that they actually made the jump from Division-II to Division-I. As the Lions enter their first season of competition at this level, they will be looking to catch up talent and facilities-wise while adjusting to the higher level of play.
Lindenwood University has experience and offensive firepower, but the learning curve in year one at this level may be steep. They were picked to finish last (10th) in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll.
Still, it is great to see another D-I athletics program in the state of Missouri (Lindenwood is located in St. Charles, Mo.), and the Lions would love nothing more than to take down the SEC program to the West. That would certainly qualify as a signature win in year one of Division-I play.
When: Sunday, November 13th
Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia MO
Time: 5:00 CST
KenPom Win Probability: 99%
PG: Nick Honor (SR)
SG D’Moi Hodge (SR)
SF: DeAndre Gholston (Grad)
PF: Kobe Brown (SR)
C: Noah Carter (JR)
PG: Kevin Caldwell Jr. (SR)
SG: Chris Childs (SR)
SF: Brandon Trimble (SR)
PF: David Ware (JR)
C: Cam Burrell (SR)
Get To Know Lindenwood
The Lions have started out this season 1-1. They were welcomed to Division-I competition with at trip to Dayton, which they lost 76-53. They defeated Hannibal-Lagrange University 85-58 last Thursday, setting up a date with another in-state foe.
The Lions were projected to finish 10th (out of 10) in the Ohio Valley Conference in the preseason media poll, which makes sense given their newness to the D-I level and the talent gap that will exist between them and the Morehead States of the world.
Still, there is a reason the Lions’ athletic department believed they could move up to the big leagues. Head coach Kyle Gerdeman enters his fourth year at the helm having posted a 34-53 record up to this point. His Lions teams are known for high-flying offense, as they were top 5 in scoring in the GLVC (Great Lakes Valley Conference) in every season of his tenure, including a first-place finish in 2020-2021 (81.9 PPG).
Kevin Caldwell, Jr. returns as the leader of this team. The guard figures to be the top scoring option for the Lions after he averaged 14.9 points per game in 2021, and he also led the team with 72 assists a season ago. The Lions will have to find a way to replace the production of Jacoby Ross, as he led the team with 19.3 points per game last season.
Thus far, the Lions have been up and down. Junior college transfer Chris Childs was a big get for Lindenwood this offseason, and he has lived up to the hype. He led the team with 15 points against Dayton, while Caldwell, Jr. shot just 3/10 from the floor. The Lions were also out-rebounded 42-31 by the Flyers.
Against Hannibal-LaGrange, Caldwell, Jr. had a bounce-back game. He finished with a team-high 20 points and 7 assists. Junior forward David Ware recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds as well.
Lindenwood does not lack in the experience department. They have 11 upperclassmen on their roster, and their leaders (Burrell and Caldwell, Jr.) are both seniors.
3 Keys To The Game
- Will Mizzou give the Lions hope early?
The key to avoiding an upset is dashing any hopes of it happening early on. If a team like Lindenwood hangs around early in this game, then they will likely stick around until the end. Just look at the Kansas City game from last season. If the Tigers can jump out to a major early advantage and maintain that, then it should be smooth sailing until the buzzer sounds.
2. Is 3-point defense going to be an issue?
I don’t need to continue to beat a dead horse here, as it’s very apparent this has been the most problematic area for this team right now. While Lindenwood isn’t necessarily the strongest 3-point shooting team, they have some quality shooters on their roster.
The Tigers will keep playing these semi-close games if they can’t guard the 3-point line.
3. Can the Tigers continue to get out in transition?
Dayton made a living against Lindenwood by consistently getting into the open floor. They scored 18 points in transition and had 34 paint points overall. That allowed them to shoot 47.1% from the floor on the night.
Mizzou has already displayed a tendency to get out and run. And, with how many players (Kobe, Gomillion, Carter) like to post-up for the Tigers, they should also see a lot of success in the paint.
My prediction: Missouri 84, Lindenwood 62 | KenPom prediction: MU 89, LU 62
I still point at the 2021 UMKC game to say that upsets are always possible in college basketball. With that being said, I just can not see Lindenwood hanging around in this game. The talent gap will be too wide, and this Missouri team appears to be more poised and experienced than last year’s bunch. They should be able to avoid any pitfalls in this game, in large part thanks to an efficient offensive performance.
However, if they torch the nets like their OVC counterparts Southern Indiana and the University of Pennsylvania did against Mizzou, then this game will certainly be a lot closer.