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Missouri To SEC: How The Move From Big 12 Country Affects Tigers Basketball

Most of the nation's focus in conference realignment is on football. What about the forgotten basketball teams, especially at Missouri where basketball has been king?

With everyone focused on how Missouri fits into the SEC in a football sense, the effect of the move on the men's basketball team is being largely ignored.

This could be because the SEC isn't big on basketball at this point and Missouri's basketball program is going through a transition phase right now with coaches and players, but Tiger fans should probably be more excited because of what it will do for the basketball program.

Yes, the SEC has never really been known as a power basketball conference, but with the addition of programs that have been good recently, like Missouri and Texas A&M, the conference could be in the midst of a transformation that puts them among the elite basketball conferences in the nation.

The emergence of Vanderbilt and Florida as good-but-not-elite programs similar to Missouri and Texas A&M along with Alabama and Georgia starting to build good programs means that the SEC is certainly on the way up in competitiveness in basketball, especially with national power Kentucky at the top of the conference.

This season, the SEC has three teams ranked in the preseason top 10, all of which compete in the East division (Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Florida). Three more members of next year's SEC (Alabama, Texas A&M and Missouri) are also ranked, which gives the SEC (including members of next year's SEC) the most number of teams ranked to begin this season (six, which is tied with the Big East).

So now that we see that the SEC is actually turning into a good basketball conference, how does Missouri fit in competitively?

While the school's conference move was obviously largely focused on improving the stature of its football program, Missouri is historically a basketball school. Legendary coach Norm Stewart produced competitive teams on a regular basis for the 32 years he was the head man at Mizzou. Columbia residents love watching Mizzou hoops even though the program has never made a Final Four, and this won't change with the conference move.

Recruiting for Frank Haith and his staff probably won't take too much of a hit either because they already recruit in the SEC area and on the East Coast, as well basically all over the country. The move may even help recruiting in the Southeast since the Tigers will be playing more road games in that region once they join the SEC.

The Tigers' competitiveness in the SEC will probably be about the same as it was in the Big 12. As "easy" as it is for the Tigers to be in the SEC East in football, it will be that difficult to play basketball with Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia in the East.

The good thing for Missouri is that most of these programs aren't traditional powers, so the recent success of some of these programs could be temporary while Missouri could consistently be the second or third best program in the East, or even the entire conference.

This year's Missouri team has a lot of questions and has questionable personnel for Haith's inside-out style, but after he gets his desired big bodies into the program, the team will fit in well to the SEC's slowed down style of play.

The shift to the SEC means only good things for the Missouri basketball program. Competitiveness will still be high, but there isn't too much that will prevent the Tigers from making annual trips to the NCAA tournament and they probably have a chance to win the conference every once in a while. There's not much more you can ask for than that.