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December 15, 2009

Like father, unlike son: Tourney team?

The suspense in the Missouri-Fairleigh Dickinson game was akin to...

Waiting for a Nebraska football fan to take offense at anything that didn't amount to Big Red worship. In other words, inevitable, but a waste of time.

Trying to decide if Kansas ever had a legitimate chance to hire Jim Harbaugh. Entertaining enough if you didn't have anything else to do, but overall I'd probably rather have been taking a nap.

Seriously, though, there has to be a way to avoid games like that doesn't there?

In today's landscape, not really. I mean everybody plays them. There are too many games in the regular season. I'd like to see the start date pushed back to November 15th or so. You are allowed 24 regular season games. That means the Big East and the PAC 10 probably have to cut four to six games out of their conference schedule, but everyone else stays the same. If you only get six or eight non-con games, teams are going to be encouraged to actually schedule somebody worth a crap. Twenty wins would once again be a benchmark that means something and is reached by the truly elite teams. It won't happen, but I wish it would. If you play 24 regular season games, even the national champ isn't going to play more than 34 in a season which is just fine with me.

Sure, there is a way, but it would involve agreement among the top basketball conferences like the ACC, the Big 12, the SEC, the Pac 10, the Big 10 that they would agree to schedule non-conference games only against a prescribed list of quality opponents. And no, that's not going to happen. The NCAA doesn't even want it to happen. Such an agreement would negate the NCAA being any use to a Sun Belt Conference school or anybody outside the major conferences and that would lead to the end of the NCAA.

I hesitate to put the entire season on the Illinois game, but that's really the only chance we have to learn anything about this team isn't it?

You're forgetting Georgia. Or, maybe you're not. Heck, I don't know. I don't put the season on the Illinois outcome, but lose that and you're looking for an above .500 finish in the Big 12 of which this team may not be capable.

I know Georgia's on the schedule. I'm discounting them, not forgetting them. For the original question, no doubt about it. You lose that one, you will end the non-con slate with the best win being over Old Dominion. That means you're going to have to go 10-6 or better in a year where the Big 12 is as good as it's ever been.

So, I know it's early, but is this team capable of making the tournament?

Missouri CAN make the tournament. I don't know yet if they will or not. But it is too early to make any sort of pronouncement on that. I was totally shocked by the Big 12 Tournament run last year. Without that, I'm not sure MU could have avoided the NCAA Tournament bubble.

I'm going to assume you made a mistake here because Missouri was already in the tournament safely prior to the Big 12 tourney. They may have improved their seed, but they were in. Capable? Sure. Would I bet on it? No. I've put it this way: Last year's team maximized its potential. Play that season 50 times and I'm not sure Missouri EVER finishes it better than 31-7. This year's team could play to its absolute ceiling and wouldn't win 31 games. The personnel just isn't there.

Did you watch Army-Navy for an advance Texas Bowl scouting report?

Nope. Not a second. In fact, I didn't watch one second of football (except practice) this weekend for the first time in four months. I try to watch Army-Navy most years, tell myself it's the patriotic thing to do. But it's a boring football game. I understand for people in the Armed Forces and people with connections to the academies it is great. I understand it's great pageantry and I have plenty of respect for both institutions. But I don't like watching the game. It doesn't hold my interest.

I watched the last eight minutes or so over ribs at TGI Friday's. And I'm glad I did. From what I saw, Navy's defense is really bad at stopping short passes and bubble screens, two big weapons for Missouri's offense. Also, if the MU defensive ends will stay at home rather than charge into the backfield, I think the Navy offense can be controlled. Army did it. So I'm glad I watched the little that I did.

Like Father, Unlike Son will appear on the site each week through the end of basketball season.

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