Here are the storylines Rock M Nation's Ross Taylor is following prior to Mizzou and Nebraska's game in Lincoln tonight.
That's all, folks
Tonight's tilt in Lincoln represents the final regular season matchup of Missouri and Nebraska as Big 12 Conference rivals. Doc Sadler's Husker teams have been a tough matchup for the Mike Anderson-era Tigers, but to hear Mizzou fans tell the story, you'd think Nebraska owned Missouri like Steve Spurrier owned Peyton Manning.
Missouri leads the all-time series, 126-92, but is 5-6 in Anderson/Sadler matchups. One game under .500 obviously isn't where Missouri would like to have been against an opponent that never made the NCAA Tournament during that time span, but it's not the red reign that defeatist fans have made it out to be. Anderson's first two teams compiled a 1-4 record against Nebraska, but the Tigers are 4-2 since including taking four of the last five. Ideal? No. Understandable? Absolutely.
Laurence Bowers' ascension to a new level is starting to become more and more apparent, but the disappearance of Ricardo Ratliffe, Steve Moore and Justin Safford against Kansas State on Saturday was too much for Missouri to overcome against a team hitting its stride. All three forwards were inefficient on the glass and completely helpless in avoiding fouls.
Nebraska won't provide the same matchup nightmares in the post posed by Kansas State, but Nebraska's Andre Almeida represents a threat all his own. He's isn't the focal point of the Nebraska gameplan at all, but in Nebraska's two best performances of the season – an upset of Texas an a three-point loss to Kansas – Almeida went a combined 10-for-12 for 20 points in 36 minutes with 12 rebounds and four blocks. Lance Jeter and Brian Jorge Diaz are both far more integral to Nebraska's success, but Almeida's success better serves as a bellwether as to how complete of an effort the Huskers have put together.
Play for seed, or play for inclusion
Missouri should, by most accounts, be a lock for the NCAA Tournament at this point. But come Selection Sunday, Mizzou fans will probably save themselves quite a bit of sweat and consternation if the Tigers come up with their second Big 12 road win of the year by beating the Huskers in Lincoln. A win quiets the "Mizzou needs momentum" talk and puts the Tigers back in the sole custody of conversations about seeding. A loss puts pressure on Mizzou to make a statement against Kansas on Saturday or at the Big 12 Tournament later this month.