Marcus Denmon driving the Illinois' big man Mike Tisdale
When you think of Missouri Tigers college basketball, you think of an average team from the Big 12 that has had little success in the grand scheme of things in NCAA history.
Not this year. While the Tigers might not have the tradition or history as rivals Kansas, they are certainly playing like it.
The Tigers are led by coach Mike Anderson, who many think is an average coach. That's where you are dead wrong. Anderson's teams play the "fastest forty minutes in basketball" as the Tigers press their opponents the entire game, causing many turnovers and transition baskets.
Marcus Denmon holds together the Tigers' unique style of play. He leads the team with 17.5 points per game and is also their emotional leader.
The key to the Tigers' press is their ability to consistently score points on offense. As long as they score, they have time to set up the press and put opponents under pressure.
Being a very good shooting team, this is not a big problem for the Tigers. Denmon, Phil Pressey, and Kim English are all sharpshooters and can knock down threes and consistently score from anywhere on the court.
This system of play can cause a ton of problems for Tiger opponents. Missouri is able to control the pace of the game with their press. Their opponent needs to have quick agile guards and to play at a very fast pace or it'll be a long night.
We saw a prime example of this earlier in the year when the Tigers defeated Illinois 75-64. Illinois, a Big 10 team with great size, tends to play a slower-paced game then the Tigers.
While the Tigers have great guard play, their downfall is the play of their big men. The Tigers will struggle defending a team that has a physical presence down low.
With the Tigers' crazy press and their prolific offense, led by one of the best players in the nation in Marcus Denmon, this team could make a deep run in March given the right match-ups.
But until then, we will have to wait and see what happens.