Missouri Tigers: When Will They Get Respect?

Scott Taylor@@Taylor_SportsCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 26:  Forward DeMarre Carroll #1 of the Missouri Tigers grabs a rebound against the Memphis Tigers in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium on March 26, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

What will it take for the University of Missouri men’s basketball team to get the respect it deserves?

Obviously, after a 102-91 victory over Memphis, a team that lost in the championship game a year ago, the Tigers still have to do more.

After the game, all of the talk was about the Duke-Villanova game and how Connecticut battled through adversity to beat Purdue.

Of course, there was also talk about Pittsburgh struggling, yet winning again and Memphis giving up 100 points.

But, it wasn’t about Missouri scoring 100 points. It wasn’t looking ahead to how Missouri could match up with UConn.

It was about how UConn will overcome adversity again to beat Mizzou.

On ESPN following the game, the crew of Rece Davis, Dick Vitale, Hubert Davis, and Digger Phelps talked about the Duke game for five minutes and the upcoming Big East battle.

Then Phelps and Vitale talked about UConn and its problems and overcoming those problems.

Finally, Davis, the most youthful and least known of the three, got a minute to talk about Missouri before break.

And, as he always does to steal the show and get the last word in, Vitale talked about how Memphis had no Hasheem Thabeet.

Basically, the Tigers have no chance because of him.

Well Dickie V, if you were watching any of the Mizzou game instead of sulking about your Dukies going down, you would have seen why there were so many open layups made.

The Tigers spread you out. Their big men, DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, like to stay on the perimeter, which brought Robert Dozier out and opened up the middle.

Don’t you think the same thing will happen to Thabeet? Or is he so amazing that he will be able to stop dribble penetration and be able to help down low from the top of the key?

I don’t think so. That is why I picked Missouri in the Final Four to begin with.

Of course, the Tigers have no one to stop Thabeet on the other end.

However, the Huskies have shown little discipline throughout the year to get the ball inside to their big man to take advantage of the mismatches.

Will they be able to turn the light on now?

Memphis was able to show a great amount of discipline in the second half, taking the ball inside off the dribble time after time.

Can UConn do the same thing?

I am not saying that the Tigers are a lock by any means.

UConn is the much bigger team and should dominate the glass.

A.J. Price has skills like Tyreke Evans of Memphis and should be able to get inside.

Also, Thabeet will still be able to alter some shots when he is down low.

If UConn went zone, it would have a great chance.

The same can be said if Mizzou lets Thabeet stay down low in the man-to-man defense, while getting in foul trouble from guarding Thabeet.

The Huskies get to the free throw line as much as anyone and somehow few fouls are called on them.

Meanwhile, Missouri’s pressing physical style tends to draw a lot of whistles against it, so free throws and foul trouble could win the game for UConn.

However, it is going to come down to a battle of wills. Who wants it more is going to win the game.

The Tigers have a bunch of hungry players who scrap, claw, and wear their opponents down over the course of the game.

Over the past few years the Huskies have lacked that toughness, but showed it in the six-overtime game with Syracuse.

I will still say, though, that Mizzou has more heart.

Another thing the experts keep bringing up is the Huskies’ road.

I am sure you have all heard how they won the championship in 1999 and 2004 after being in the West regional.

Now, it is another West regional and another five years later, so it is an automatic, right?

Well, the experts can think that all they want, but the game is decided on the court.

Missouri can just keep sliding under the radar, while all of the talk leading up to the game can be about Thabeet and the possible recruiting violations for UConn.

The question now is if Missouri beats the Huskies, will it get some respect finally? Or will the UConn loss be blamed on distractions?

Just to be safe, Missouri better win it all, or else it should be prepared to get no respect.


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