With one week until kickoff of the Tigers 2018 football season, everything that can be written has been by someone or another. That being said, there was some exciting news for Mizzou fans related to the hardwood this winter.
The SEC basketball schedule for the 2018-19 season was released this week setting the entire slate in place. While the out of conference games have been set for a while, with the SEC schedule out it gives us a look at the tough stretches and a better outlook on what it will take for the Tigers to make the NCAA tournament.
Mizzou will start off their season on November 6th at home against Central Arkansas then three days later travel to Iowa State to take on the former Big 12 rival Cyclones. The Tigers got a big win to start the season last season at home against Iowa State and in Cuonzo’s second season look to start off just as hot.
The next week the Tigers will travel to the U.S Virgin Islands for the three game Paradise Jam kick off tournament. They return from the tournament to close out November and the entire month of December with eight straight home games against tough opponents including Temple, Central Florida, Oral Roberts and Xavier. Those first four home games lead up to what one of Mizzou fans most anticipated games of the year at the Braggin’ Rights game in St. Louis on December 22nd against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Coach Martin’s Tigers will be looking to get their first Braggin’ Rights win since the 2012 season when they knocked off the then #10 ranked Illini 82 to 73.
Mizzou will then travel to Morehead State on December 29th before finally beginning their SEC schedule in early January.
Mizzou kicks off their SEC slate with a game against Coach Cuonzo Martin’s former team the Tennessee Volunteers on January 8th. Coach Martin coached at Tennessee from 2011 to 2014 and will take on a very tough Tennessee team coached by Rick Barnes and a seasoned team with quite a few returning starters.
While the football season starts with a murderer’s row of games to kick off SEC play, the basketball schedule is a bit easier starting out playing Tennessee which will be tough but followed by games at South Carolina on January 12th before returning home to face Alabama on the 16th.
The next three weeks is probably Missouri’s toughest stretch of the schedule and will be vital for the Tigers to pull out a few wins in order to stay in the hunt to make the NCAA tournament. They kick it off with a game at Texas A&M on the 19th before heading to Arkansas where they almost knocked off the Razorbacks last year.
They then return home on January 26th to play the LSU Tigers, who have the 2nd ranked recruiting class in the SEC and third best nationally. One bright spot of this year’s schedule is avoiding a trip to LSU. They head south to play another Tiger team in Auburn who have two players returning from eligibility questions but had nearly nothing in this year’s recruiting class before heading back to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt. The Commodores had a huge recruiting class after what some would see as a tough season last year. Vandy pulled in two top 15 recruits and finished 3rd in the SEC in the 2018 recruiting class.
After what is sure to be a battle against Vanderbilt, Coach Martin makes his long-awaited return to Knoxville on February 5th for another matchup against Tennessee. The Tigers then return home for their only back to back home games of SEC play against Texas A&M and Arkansas on the 9th and 12th respectively. Traveling to Ole Miss on the 16th is next on the schedule for the two teams’ first meeting of the season. The Rebels edged out Mizzou in recruiting over the offseason finishing with the 9th best SEC recruiting class.
While none of the Rebs recruits were in the top 100 they pulled in six new players for the upcoming season. Even with this recruiting class, Ole Miss is a game that the Tigers have to win if they expect to make their second straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Another bonus for this year’s schedule is getting to play Kentucky at home on the 19th, avoiding playing in the always tough Rupp Arena before traveling to Florida to take on the Gators. Florida returns their entire front court as well as snagging three big recruits this offseason putting them with the 5th best class in the SEC.
The Tigers then close out the season with a pretty favorable four game stretch against Mississippi State on the road, at home against South Carolina, on the road against Georgia and at home for round two with Ole Miss. The final stretch will be even more important than the tough stretch throughout the middle of the year because while the tournament committee takes the schedule as a whole into account it does seem that they seem to lean towards team trending upwards as the season draws near. Jontay and company are going to have their hands full if they hope to have as successful a season as last year but one thing is for certain, a second year under Coach Martin is going to have all Tiger fans ready to see them through #ToTheFinishLine.