Even with their 8-3 record and a lesser national ranking, some Kansas fans are claiming that their basketball team is somehow better than their undefeated rival, Missouri.
Some Jayhawk fans will point to the Tigers' narrow win over a stumbling Illinois team as a sign that they aren't as good as some people have said they are at the start of the season.
It's a point that probably has some merit, but I think Kansas fans just have some problems admitting that their team is just not as good as the one at their rival school. How hard can it be to admit that Missouri's best start in 30 years is better than Kansas in a down year?
The fact that Kansas has run into some problems early makes it almost impossible to say that the Jayhawks have a better team than the Tigers this year. Yes, Kansas has played a much tougher schedule than Missouri in 2011, but they lost a pretty easy game against Davidson (played in KANSAS City) and before last night's close win in St. Louis, Missouri had been very impressive no matter who the opponent was.
After being tested for the first time all year Thursday, Missouri fans have had mixed reactions. Some call it a good sign that the Tigers found themselves in a close game in the final minutes in closed out a win, but others say that the Illini exposed some big cracks in the Tigers' game. In reality, the game probably proved a bit of both points.
The thing we learned Thursday was that Missouri probably won't go undefeated this year. But their performance through non-conference play has been much more impressive than Kansas' and it's pretty easy to back up the argument that Missouri has a better roster than the Jayhawks at this point.
The Tigers have great shooters in Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe while the Jayhawks are led by big man Thomas Robinson, who is averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds per game. Even with only seven players in the every-game rotation, Missouri probably has better talent deeper in their lineup.
The offense that Missouri throws out there is better than nearly everyone in the country and they have a solid defense that forces a great number of turnovers (sounds like a nightmare for Tyshawn Taylor). Will Kansas be able to match the speed of Missouri?
Even though they probably have less talent that Missouri, Kansas is still talented enough to beat the Tigers this year. They could even beat them twice. Still, when the rubber has met the road this year, Missouri has taken care of business on the court against the teams in front of them in extremely impressive fashion and coach Frank Haith is getting the most out of his talented pieces.
The games that will pit Missouri against Kansas are still over a month away. We have a lot to find out about both of these teams before they matchup twice in February. Both teams have another 10 or 11 games to improve before they square off in Columbia on February 4, in what should be a raucous Mizzou Arena for the last season series between these two bitter rivals.