- Missouri ‘s Marcus Denmon prepares to pass as Baylor ‘s Perry Jones III defends beneath the basket during the first half of a game that matched the No. 5 Tigers against the No. 3 Bears. Tony Gutierrez/The Associated Press
In a year where it appears that the Big XII has three great teams, the best of the three may be the team on its way out. The Missouri Tigers are rolling along with only one loss this season and is doing by leaning on its their guard play.
Leading the way for the Tigers is All-American candidate Marcus Denmon who’s averaging over 17 points per game, but he’s getting plenty of help. Running the point for them is one of the most athletic little guys in the country, Phil “Flip” Pressey with Kim English and Michael Dixon also giving the Tigers help in the backcourt and on the wing.
Missouri can beat you in the paint as well now. Ricardo Ratliffe went toe-to-toe with Baylor’s imposing frontcourt and emerged with 27 points and 8 rebounds in it’s 89-88 win over the Bears on Jan. 21.
The Tigers still have plenty of work to do this season, including another match-up against Baylor and two against Kansas. However, they look like they’re hear for the long haul.
Stock Up: Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten looks primed to get close to 75 percent of it’s teams in the NCAA tournament. That it is an amazing feat. There are no gimmes in the league this year showing how deep it is from top-to-bottom. Ohio St looks to be the class of the league, but there’s about seven teams in this conference that can beat anybody on any given night.
Stock Down: Colonial Athletic Association. It was all good just a year ago. The CAA got three NCAA tournament bids and VCU fought its way to the Final Four. That will not happen this year. The winner of the CAA will be fortunate to be a 13/14 seed. College basketball is cyclical and every league will have a down year, but the sudden fall for the Colonial has been surprising.
Stock Up: Doug McDermott. He’s not getting publicity like Jimmer Fredette, but McDermott is putting up huge numbers for the Creighton Blue Jays. McDermott is averaging 23 points and over eight rebounds a game. He’s a definite All-American candidate and has Creighton fans thinking back to the days of Kyle Korver. The scariest thing about McDermott is that he’s a sophomore too.
Stock Down: Syracuse University Athletic Department. Your team is having a great year and great years should be celebrated…when they’re over. Someone in Upstate New York thought it was wise to sell “No. 1″ and “20-0″ t-shirts. Right now the Orange is neither. Let’s act like we’ve been there before fellas.
This Week’s Bracket Projections:
Last Four In: BYU, Marshall, NC State, Mississippi
Last Four Out: New Mexico, Colorado St, St. Louis, Wyoming
Good for Games through 1/22
1.Kentucky16.Texas-Arlington/Boston U Louisville
5.Indiana12.NC State/BYU Portland
4.San Diego St13.Middle Tennessee St
7.Murray St10.Xavier Albuquerque
1.Missouri16.UNC-Asheville/Miss Valley St Omaha
5.St. Mary’s12.Mississippi/Marshall Nashville
3.Creighton14.Long Beach St
2.North Carolina15.Norfolk St
1.Syracuse16.Weber St Pittsburgh
6.West Virginia11.Arkansas Columbus
1.Ohio St16.Bucknell Pittsburgh
5.Florida St12.Memphis Nashville
7.Virginia10.Seton Hall Omaha