Take that image you had at the beginning of the season out of your head. Seeing the West Virginia game on the slate brought a guarded optimism that Mizzou could pull out a win against a relatively consistent program.
Come Gameday however, it doesn’t have the same fuzzy feeling we were all hoping. Mizzou moral is low, but there is a silver lining to all of this, in that the Tigers would have a lot to gain from what is now a ranked West Virginia team.
The important thing to remember while the Tigers seem to be in a free-fall is that this isn’t a Kim Anderson squad. These teams aren’t losing games they should be in by 20, 30 points. I remain absolutely resolute in my stance that this team is talented enough to play with the majority of the SEC, they’ve just happen to lose a lot of games.
The scouting report on the Mountaineers is pretty intimidating given the Tigers recent weaknesses. Success begins and ends with two of their forwards, Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver, both of which nearly average a double-double every game. Tshiebwe is 6’9″ and listed at 258, while Culver is only 6’10” and weighs in at 255.
One of their primary three-point threats is a freshman they’re big on, Miles McBride. He’s currently better than 40 percent from 3-point range on the season. Over the last three games, shooting percentages have been 71, 73 and 57. So if you plan on somehow establishing a physical game, you’re going to have to contend with McBride on the outside.
So is there a hope? There is if Mizzou can meet three major criteria, and they will probably have to pull every one of them off to even have a chance.
One, shoot lights out from three. We will have to have another “Florida game” from behind the arc to be able to stay level.
Secondly, we’ll need to continue the absolutely red hot pace from behind the line. We need to get to the line often, hopefully establish foul trouble for their forwards, and keep netting free throws.
Finally, and yes I mean this, something is going to have to happen that takes one of their players out of the game. Whether it’s a freak illness, or somebody accidentally pulling a muscle in warmups, Mizzou will also need the benefit of some freak bad luck.
The odds aren’t good, but that’s why they play the game. West Virginia has an excellent coach in Bob Huggins and a bench of very big, talented guys. The Tigers have leadership and talent as well, it’s just going to take every bit of it for Mizzou to come out with a victory on Saturday.
Obnoxious Mizzou Fan can cook things but sometimes prefers cheese and unwarmed bread. Follow him on Twitter.