Welcome to the Bulldawg Illustrated Hoops Report. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And the Dawgs just finished their first leg of the race with a resounding 78-62 thumping of Vandy. The ‘Dores appeared to have a chance early but then the ball was tipped. The Dawgs scored first and never trailed. Now let’s not kid ourselves. Vandy is not good away from Nashville. So this wasn’t a quality win by any means. However, we took care of business and led by 20 a majority of the second half. Now, things get dicey.
The Dawgs victory won them the right to play Missouri. To me, this is the worst possible matchup the Dawgs could have. The tournament is in St. Louis and Mizzou will have a home-court advantage. The Tigers are most likely in the The Big Dance, but it’s not a done deal. They need a win to pad their resume in case there are some conference upsets. So they’ll be hungry. Then, you add the fact that a guy who was considered possibly the best player in the NCAA in November by many is coming back after missing all but two minutes of the season. Lastly, Mizzou can score in bunches and that’s something the Dawgs struggle to do. It will be tough to score with them. There’s a tsunami of forces against the Dawgs and things don’t look good.
So here’s the deal. The Dawgs have to give their best defensive effort of the year, don’t turn the ball over, and make over half of their threes. If we do all three, we’ll have a punchers chance. We’ve not shot well all year from behind the arc most of the year but we’ll need all the offense we can get. Who knows. Maybe the return of a new weapon will cause Mizzou to get out of sync. Even so, they’ve still got plenty of other options and have proven they can put up ninety. So we need as many offensive possessions as possible and must be efficient. And remember, Mizzou may be fired up and hungry, but the Dawgs are desperate. They know they’re playing for their season and most likely their coach’s job. So anything possible. But this isn’t going to be easy. As we stated before the Vandy game, and we still fully believe, if the Dawgs beat Mizzou, the matchups the rest of the tournament give them a legitimate shot to end up in the SEC finals. That would be amazing on the ten year anniversary of the Tornado Tournament.
I don’t feel good about this, but I’ll be watching. Clock, wind and scoreboard are against us, but stranger things have happened. Just look at the 2008 Tourney. Go Dawgs!