Missouri is playing their best ball at the best time

Missouri is playing their best ball at the best time

Credit: Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 09: Ricardo Ratliffe #10 of the Missouri Tigers attempts to block a shot by Jonathan Holmes #10 of the Texas Longhorns during the semifinals of the 2012 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 9, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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by JJ Bailey, Missouri Basketball App

KMOV.com

Posted on March 10, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 6:11 PM

(Missouri Basketball App) -- I know, I know. I'm as disappointed as you are. Missouri waxed Texas, and that's great. But the matchup we wanted- that everyone in the country wanted- isn't going to happen. The rubber match between MU and KU has been derailed by Baylor. So who is the better team? That's easy.

Missouri came from behind in the first matchup, and made off with a tough win. Then, the Tigers went into Phog Allen, and- for 30 minutes- absolutely dominated the contest. Yes, they lost, but at the worst because their lead grew too comfortable to handle, and at best because if you're going to win in Lawrence, you need to be five points better than KU to overcome the refs.

But only one team remains in the big XII tournament. Only one is still making its case for a number one seed. Missouri is hot, and getting hotter. Kim English is finding his tournament stride. Phil Pressey is breaking records and finding his stroke. The Tigers are playing their best ball of the season, and it's going to pay off. They scored 80 points without Marcus Denmon breaking a sweat. Steve Moore even got in on the action for the second time in as many games. It's good, because they'll need it.

I'm a firm believer that if Mizzou wins the Big XII tourney, they'll pull a one seed. That one seed is going to make a world of difference. That means you're pulling a four seed in the third round instead of a three seed. While there's a healthy debate to be had over the merits of seeding, three seeds are always far more dangerous (just ask Missouri). With the Tigers earning a number one going into the dance, they'll have a much better road to the deep rounds. All that stands in the way is Baylor.

The scary thing is, the ceiling for Baylor's is much higher than for Kansas. KU is probably a better team overall, but Baylor is capable of much more than the Jayhawks. The bears are loaded with length and athleticism, and chock full off crazy- something that can turn a game in an instant.

Baylor has the skills to beat just about anybody, but a discipline level that allows them to succumb to even the slightest misstep. Mizzou needs to prove they won't play to the Bears' level of mayhem. Both teams thrive on a frantic pace, with transition points playing a key part in their strategies. Mizzou escaped in Waco, and won handily in Columbia. Now, a neutral court can do wonders for either team's resume. A win for Baylor means vindication over both foes this season, and a big boost going into tournament time. For Mizzou, it would mean a clean sweep of Baylor, ISU and Texas, and - at least for me- proof that this team has earned a one seed over KU.

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