Missouri will be renewing a rivalry with a former Big 2 rival at the Sprint Center in Kansas City this season, but it’s not the rival that we all hoped for.
The Tigers sent out a release with Oklahoma State on Monday announcing the renewal of the rivalry between those two programs on December 30th of this season.
Both teams will be in a bit of a rebuilding mode next season, as Oklahoma State will be looking to replace Marcus Smart and Markel Brown while Missouri will be beginning the tenure of new head coach Kim Anderson without Jordan Clarkson or Jabari Brown. But this move is a good thing for college hoops. There were some hard feelings when the Big 12 and the Big East saw some of the most high profile programs depart, but in recent weeks we’ve seen some of those rivalries renewed: Georgetown will start playing Syracuse again in 2015-2016 while Baylor and Texas A&M will play again next season.
Hopefully, Missouri and Kansas — and Pitt and West Virginia — will take notes.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when your rivalry has an actual nickname, you conference affiliation isn’t an excuse not to play it.
Anyway, here are the coaches’ quotes given in the statement by Missouri and Oklahoma State:
Travis Ford: “We are looking forward to playing Missouri at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Oklahoma State has a long-standing history with the Tigers, having been conference rivals for more than half a century. We’ve had some thrilling games with Mizzou the past several seasons. It is also exciting to play an early season game in the same venue that hosts the Big 12 Championship. OSU has a lot of alumni and fans in the Kansas City area, and we hope this gives them an opportunity to catch the Cowboys in person. I have a great deal of respect for Coach Anderson, and think he’ll continue the great tradition that they have at Missouri.”
Kim Anderson: “What a special game for the fans and former players of both universities,” Anderson said. “I remember playing Oklahoma State in Kansas City twice while I was in school and those were two great games. Our two universities share great history with one another and conference affiliation isn’t going to change that fact. Obviously KC is very special to us and plays a major part in who we are as a university and as a basketball program. We have tremendous fans in the city and they know how committed we are to bringing Mizzou Basketball to the Sprint Center as often as possible.”
Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.
According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.
The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.
If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.
Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.
GAME OF THE DAY: George Washington vs. No. 24 Cincinnati, 1:30 p.m.
Two 6-0 teams clash at the Barclays Center in what could be an important game for NCAA tournament resumes of both teams. The Bearcats picked up their most legitimate win over Nebraska, but the Colonials pose as a more real threat after they beat Virginia at home earlier this season. Cincinnati hasn’t shot the ball well in recent wins, but they’re beating up opponents on the glass and the defense has been solid. George Washington is coming off of a win over Tennessee in which they held off the Volunteers in the second half. The Colonials have lost 20 of their last 23 against ranked opponents, but another win over a top team would look great for them going forward.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 4 Iowa State vs. Illinois, 6:00 p.m. (CBSSN)
This game is apart of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida as the Illini could desperately use a win after a 3-3 start. Illinois head coach John Groce and his team are feeling the pressure for a big win on a neutral site after falling to North Florida, Providence and Chattanooga earlier in the season. The No. 4 Cyclones easily dispatched Virginia Tech earlier in the event and have found a nice balance on offense with the emergence of senior big man Jameel McKay inside.
SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- N0. 2 Maryland has struggled to put away teams early at times this season and they’ll try to change that behavior when they host Cleveland State.
- Staying in the Big Ten, No. 16 Purdue hosts Lehigh. With a game at Pitt and against New Mexico looming, could this be a trap game for the Boilers?
- Nebraska and Tennessee take the floor in consolation action at the Barclays Center. The Huskers need someone besides Shavon Shields and Andrew White to step up in the scoring column while Tennessee is getting huge numbers from senior guard Kevin Punter.
- Two 4-0 teams will meet in Brooklyn as Louisville takes on Saint Louis (7:00 p.m., ESPN3). Neither team has faced a significant test this season and this is the Cardinals’ first game away from home.
- An intriguing night game to keep an eye on is Belmont traveling to BYU (8:00 p.m.). The Bruins are as well-coached as any team in the country and forward Evan Bradds has been playing great ball to start the season. The Cougars don’t have a high scorer like they did in the past, but Kyle Collinsworth is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor and BYU has a lot of weapons around him.
- UAB and Virginia Tech battle in one of the more intriguing consolation games of the Emerald Coast Classic. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses but have a shot to make things better on the trip with a solid win on Saturday.
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES
- Bryant at Georgetown, 11:00 a.m. (FS2)
- Bucknell at Penn State , 12:00 p.m.
- Tennessee-Martin vs. Mississippi State, 12:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
- Ole Miss at Bradley, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Old Dominion at VCU, 3:00 p.m.
- Hawaii at Texas Tech, 3:00 p.m.
- Kent State at Pitt, 3:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
- SIU-Edwardsville at Butler, 4:00 p.m.
- Georgia at Seton Hall, 6:30 p.m.
- Western Illinois at Creigton, 7:00 p.m.
- Colorado State vs UTEP, 7:30 p.m.