I think most Missouri Tigers fans looked at this current stretch of games as make or break for the men’s basketball team in terms of whether or not this team was NCAA tournament ready. Mizzou had never won at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Kentucky at home, then a road game to Florida.  You would have been excused to think it possible the Tigers could go 0-3 in that stretch. What happened?

Mizzou showed some toughness on the road and won for the first time at Arkansas since…well, it’s been a long time. Now, a Kentucky team comes into Columbia on Saturday with five losses…all away from Rupp Arena. They fell to Michigan State in Chicago, Baylor in Arlington, TX, at North Carolina, at Arkansas and the game that really hurt, according to Shane Bailey of SEC Sports Round Table, their last road game at LSU on Tuesday.

When you listen to Shane, you’ll notice a lot of similarities between the two teams. Kentucky has a young team, four starting freshman, and they’re looking for a leader on the floor. They have talent, they just haven’t put it all together and at times can look flustered on the road. Almost sounds like Missouri, doesn’t it?

I like the fact that this game is at home for Mizzou.  They’ll feed off the crowd’s energy which will no doubt be high this week, as the Tigers host their biggest opponent of the season in a much anticipated game.  If Mizzou can rattle UK’s young players, continue to battle on the boards against the best offensive rebounding team in the nation and make their fair share of outside shots, the Tigers can come away with their third win in a row and a victory on the resume that may just be big enough to get them firmly into tournament talk, regardless of what happens at Florida.