Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The basketball gods have smiled upon Kansas City, gracing us a championship bout for the ages. A century-old rivalry renewed for perhaps the last time featuring two Top Five teams that flat-out hate each other.
The season series stands at one game apiece, both games decided in the final moments, and now Kansas (26-5, 16-2 Big 12) and Missouri (27-4, 14-4 Big 12) stand ready to duel in epic fashion in one final game.
To the victor goes a Big XII Championship, a Number One Seed and the rivalry win to end them all.
The individual idiosyncrasies of this matchup are endless. Mizzou's Phil Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe form one of the top pick-and-roll pairs in the league. Another top guard-big man team? Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas.
Both duos have their Kryptonite. If Kansas can get Ratliffe in foul trouble, then Robinson will have a field day in the low post. Conversely, if Pressey can bait Taylor into turning the ball over, then Missouri can get out and run. Neither team has much depth, however, so exposing either weakness could prove fatal. In fact, Missouri has only seven scholarship players, none of which stand taller than 6'8".
One of the seven, a reserve, could very well be the X-factor for the Tigers. Junior Big XII Sixth-Man of the Year Micheal Dixon pours in 13.2 points off the bench per games, is lightning fast and can stroke it from distance.
On the Kansas side, marksman Connor Teahan does little more than shoot, but is ruthlessly efficient, going 4-4 from three in the comeback win against Missouri.
This game is very much a battle of starkly different styles and tempos. In all likelihood the contest will be a series of spurts and momentum shifts, as the Tigers and Jayhawks fight to impose their style on one another.
Will Mizzou's pin-point accuracy from deep be the death of the Jayhawks? Or will Thomas Robinson establish himself as the best player on the floor? In a battle of two championship caliber teams, hated rivals and Coach of the Year candidates, there is no telling which way this will go.
Ultimately, Kansas has proven they can get Missouri in foul trouble, exposing their one fatal flaw. The game will go down to the wire, but Kansas has Thomas Robinson, and Missouri does not.