COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 04: Kim English #24 of the Missouri Tigers looks to pass over Justin Wesley #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half at Mizzou Arena on February 4, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
The Border War will see its final chapter written on Saturday afternoon when Missouri and Kansas face off in Lawrence. What does this game mean for a pair of top 5 teams?
There aren't enough words in the English language to describe how huge Saturday's Kansas-Missouri game will be.
These two teams have been playing basketball against each other for more than 100 years and have faced off 264 times. Every time they play each other, hate is in the air and all bragging rights are on the line.
There has never been a game as big as this one between the two schools.
Not even the instant classic three weeks ago when the Tigers took down the Jayhawks in Columbia will measure up to the atmosphere of this battle between two top-5 teams.
The winner of the game will undoubtedly win the conference's regular season title and earn the number one seed in the conference tournament. This is the last scheduled game between the two hated rivals. Ever. How could the stakes get bigger between these teams in the future unless they met deep in the NCAA tournament?
So now the series travels to Lawrence, Kan., a place where there are plenty of demons for Missouri. The Tigers haven't won at KU since legendary coach and noted Kansas hater Norm Stewart last coached the team in 1999.
A win for Kansas would give them their eighth straight conference title, but the Jayhawks probably want this game more for other reasons.
You could see the pain in the eyes of Thomas Robinson after Marcus Denmon scored 9 points in the span of about 75 seconds to turn an 8-point deficit into a 1-point lead in Columbia earlier this month. You know he's going to be motivated to not let that happen again, especially in front of his home fans.
Not only that, but Kansas fans would be livid if their team lost its last two games against Missouri before they moved to the SEC. For a team that has owned the all-time Border War in basketball for as long as it has been played, losing its last two games against the hated Tigers would be a failure of epic proportions, especially with the team's high ranking this season.
Missouri needs this win in order to win the conference, obviously, but this game is a huge measuring stick for how mentally tough this team is.
A win would be a monumental boost to the team's confidence going into the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament. The Tigers haven played much better on the road this season than they did in the last two or three years under Mike Anderson, but Allen Fieldhouse is a totally different ballgame and it will be especially tough tomorrow.
Plus, after a home loss to Kansas State, Missouri is starting to be doubted on a national level again when it comes to how deep this team can go in the NCAA Tournament. Silencing those doubters would be a way to prove that they should be expected to make the Final Four for the first time in school history.
With all of this pressure and everything seemingly stacked against Missouri, can you now imagine how big a win would be for the Tigers?
If we as fans are lucky, we'll get another great game like we did When Missouri scored the last 11 points of the game and won 74-71 on Feb. 4. It's a shame that these two teams won't be scheduled to play each other in the near future because the amount of unwavering hate between the two programs is unmatched in the country.
Here's to one last Border War.