COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 04: Truman the Tiger pumps up the crowd before a game between the Missouri Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks the first half at Mizzou Arena on February 4, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) By Ed Zurga
COLUMBIA, MO - JANUARY 03: A Missouri Tigers cheerleader performs during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners on January 3, 2012 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) By Jamie Squire
COLUMBIA, MO - JANUARY 03: General view during the game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Missouri Tigers on January 3, 2012 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) By Jamie Squire
COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 04: Steve Moore #32 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates a 74-71 win over the Kansas Jayhawks at Mizzou Arena on February 4, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) By Ed Zurga
(Missouri Basketball App) -- With the Tigers churning toward what appears to be a one-game showdown for the Big XII title, Columbia's celebratory spirit has been tempered a bit. The expectation to win is still prevalent, but for the first time, concern has crept into the minds of Tiger Nation.
It started with a largely- overlooked announcement: Matt Pressey would not practice Monday. From that, superfans began to mumble fears of a six-man rotation. As often happens, casual fans overheard and spread the fear to their friends, and before the evening was over, a wide-spread debate of the longevity the Tigers possess was brewing. By this morning, worried tones and concerned faces were running rampant.
Now the fans know what they have, and they're scared to lose it. We're just weeks away from a possible one seed and suddenly it's becoming clear how devastating an early exit would be.
But we can't think that way. We can't forget we're already playing with house money. This season was a wash at the start, and it just happened to turn out great. The players know it- that's why they sprint up and down the court, dive to the floor, play heart-attack-inducing close games, and take charges with abandon. We have taken well over 50 charges. That means that a sane-minded person voluntarily stood in front of someone bigger than them in the hopes of getting knocked to the floor. More than 50 times.
Missouri has played like a team with nothing to lose- and they really should. They're closing out their Big XII run, the senior class is going to end as the winningest in school history, and their season was un unexpected yet well-earned gift. We can't start worrying about depth now. All we can do is charge headlong into the fray as we have all season. Bodies will fly, shots will fall, and crowds will scream. When the dust clears we'll take a look around and see where we stand. It's worked so far, so why change it now?
If we have the magic, we're going to have it all season long. In the one-in-a-million season that leads to a national championship, you either have the mojo or you don't. Even if we went down to five players, can you imagine anything more terrifying to an opposing defense than five Missouri Tigers who feel like fate is trying to challenge them? It's us against the world- we don't have time worry about depth or injuries.