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Missouri vs. Kansas: Showdown Setting Up To Be A Classic End To A Great Rivalry

This isn't going to be your normal Missouri-Kansas rivalry game.

A normal MU-KU basketball game consists of some of the most directed hate in all of college sports, one of the loudest arenas in the nation for the duration of the game and some of the more exciting basketball you will see all season.

This is game is going to blow all of that out of the water.

No one that has experienced this rivalry has ever experienced a game with so much outside meaning surrounding it.

Two top-ten ranked teams. The last scheduled matchup between the two in Columbia. College GameDay is in town. Think 2007 level football, only with less implications on a national title, at least for now.

The atmosphere is going to be out of this world.

But how will the game play out?

Missouri-Kansas games are usually hyped in the same way: how can the Tigers pull an upset against a ranked Kansas team? This game is different in the fact that the Tigers are actually favored by more "experts" and come into the game with a higher ranking than the Jayhawks.

That doesn't make Missouri fans feel any better about winning this game.

Marcus Denmon, Missouri's best scorer, has been ice cold from the floor for the last half of the season, so Tiger fans aren't as confident as usual in the team's ability to score a lot of points, especially against one of the top defenses in the nation in Kansas.

Also, Ricardo Ratliffe will have one of the toughest matchups of the year on both sides of the court when he tries to guard and score against Thomas Robinson, the current leader for national player of the year.

With those two factors seemingly going strongly against Missouri, how can they be favored to win?

Well, just like they have done all year, the Tigers have taken their size disadvantage and turned it into an advantage with their quickness. When Kim English is on offense, he will likely be matched up against Robinson or 7-footer Jeff Withey, so he can do a lot of good work with relative ease around the perimeter. He will get open looks on the outside, or be able to pressure the defense enough to take the ball to the hoop and try and get fouled or kick it out to an open shooter.

Bill Self acknowledged that he is worried about that matchup.

"One of their strengths is playing Kim (English) at the four," Self said. "They have a lot of strengths, but that is one of their biggest. When you play him at the four, then that also isolates (Ricardo) Ratliffe one-on-one in the post because there are no traps or anything like that. It is a well thought-out scheme that they are doing over there and it is our job to try and take something away."

So while Missouri takes disadvantages because of their size on one end of the court, they turn that into more advantages on the other side of the court. This is the reason the Tigers are 20-2 and this is the way Missouri needs to attack Kansas.

Another thing that needs to go Missouri's way if they want a chance to win is turnovers. The Tigers have been able to bother Kansas to the tune of 26, 18 and 24 turnovers in the last three games at Mizzou Arena, so they should have a pretty good chance to do that again this year, especially with Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson averaging to turn the ball over more than 6 times per game.

Phil Pressey will be key in that area. How much can he bother Taylor and how often can he turn steals into quick points the other way? The sophomore guard has been incredibly impressive in Big 12 play, and there's no reason to think he will fold on the big stage.

Finally, this game is being played at Mizzou Arena. No matter the circumstance, the Tigers always put up a good fight at home, and with everything surrounding this game, you can bet that both the team and the fans alike will be ready to give everything they have to see their Tigers get one final home win against their hated rivals.

So whether you are going insane inside Mizzou Arena tomorrow, or watching this from your couch, just remember that this isn't just any Missouri-Kansas game.

It's so much more than that.