The Missouri Tigers have certainly not looked like National Championship contenders through the first eight games of the season. Sure, there are still so many games to be played, and they are 7-1, but the Tigers have not been very impressive.
The panic level certainly is not very high at Missouri, nor should it be. But to be frank, the Tigers have had a disappointing start to the year. On the court, the team did not perform very well at the Battle 4 Atlantis. They squeaked past Stanford and VCU in their first and third games in the tournament, and were absolutely pummeled by Louisville in their semifinal game. The Tigers have also struggled in the first half of many of their games. Their most recent first half struggles led to a 10-point halftime deficit against SEMO.
Off the court, things have been even worse for Missouri. The team learned last week that Michael Dixon would be leaving the school after two allegations came out of Dixon sexually assaulting two different women. There was not enough evidence found to charge Dixon, but it was serious enough to cause him to transfer.
With the struggles the team has had, and the distractions off the court, Mizzou fans can still be very happy. Like I mentioned, the team is 7-1, and they are also ranked No. 12 nationally in the country.
The question arises for fans though: Is this team a national title contender?
They are not national title contenders at the moment. That is soon to change though.
One of the biggest keys to that change will come in the form of Jabari Brown, a transfer from Oregon, who will play a huge key in the Tigers' success in the second half of the season. Brown is a major scoring threat and will do more than just fill the void that Michael Dixon's departure leaves.
Brown's presence will also take a lot of pressure off fellow guards Earnest Ross and Keion Bell, who are both transfers as well. Both guards have provided some good scoring for the Missouri offense, but neither of them has quite the same scoring capability that Brown has.
Brown has been at Mizzou since last year and has been able to practice with the team, so he should not have any trouble getting acquainted with his teammates in game situations. There may be some hiccups here and there, but that happens with all players at any level.
Jabari Brown will be a big-time player for the Tigers this season. In fact, he will be so big that by the time March comes around, the Tigers will be a favorite to win the National Championship.