If you were to glance at the NCAA men’s basketball polls, you would find most of the top spots occupied by the usual powerhouses: Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, and Georgetown. Sandwiched in at No. 2, however, are the Missouri Tigers, their highest ranking in a decade. Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Mo. joined Bill this week to talk Mizzou basketball.
“This was not an expected run,” Walentik said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of buzz about Missouri going into the year with a first-year coach, Frank Haith. But he’s come in and installed the perfect system for the players that he inherited, and he’s got them playing as one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country.”
Although Missouri’s roster isn’t littered with future NBA stars, or perhaps even future NBA players, Walentik said there were still players worth keeping an eye on.
“Ricardo Ratliffe,” he said, “is the most efficient big man in the country. He’s on pace to break the NCAA record for field goal percentage. He’s shooting over 75% for the year.”
Although they’ve gone on an impressive run so far this season, including a win on the road over number three-ranked Baylor, success in the NCAA tournament is far from guaranteed.
“A lot of that depends on matchups,” Walentik said. “Missouri is not a team with much size – they’ve got two players taller than 6-feet-6-inches. All of those guys have been playing at a high level, but whether or not that can happen on any given day remains to be seen.”