The University of Missouri took a huge hit with a loss to Kansas State Tuesday night, ahead of a Big 12 regular season title-deciding game against Border Showdown partner Kansas. Mizzou looks to win their first regular season Big 12 title before they head off to the SEC, while Kansas is looking forward to an 8th straigh championship.
Sitting at 15-0 at home on the season before the game, Mizzou might have been the victims of the classic look-ahead game with a lackluster performance against Frank Martin's Wildcats.
The Tigers came out flat, arrogant and most-shockingly, unmotivated. After being run over 75-59 in Manhattan, Kansas on January 7 in the first meeting between the two teams this season, you would think that Mizzou's primary objective would have been to exact some revenge, right?
Apparently, a team that had played seemingly flawless basketball so far this season had expected to win without putting forth much effort—only trying to save face when the game was too far out of reach.
Who is to blame for such an inexplicable loss when everything pointed to an easy victory on paper?
I hate to place the burden on head coach Frank Haith because he is probably the front-runner for National Coach of the Year, but it is imperative that he prepares his team for every game on an individual basis.
Sure the players are responsible for their play on the court, but results are primarily driven with the groundwork. Haith has to do a better job of putting a plan in place for this team to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Missouri doesn't feature a deep bench or the size to go toe-to-toe with a lot of the teams they could eventually play in the Tournament. But what they do have is experience with five seniors that play significant minutes, and they have possibly the best-guard play in the country.
If Haith can construct a blueprint to negate his team's deficiencies while keeping everyone hungry, Missouri has a legitimate shot at making their first Final Four appearance in school history. If Haith fails in doing so, Mizzou Nation is in for a disappointing transition to the SEC.