Cuonzo Martin: Mizzou, Missouri State finalizing game

Bears fans always bring it up to Mizzou fans.  November 18, 1998.

“The paper said, ‘big brother versus little brother,” Bears guard William Fontleroy said in 1998, “we just wanted to show that little brother can play too.”

Steve Alford’s team handed Norm Stewart his first home loss in the month of November in his storied career.

Missouri State left with a three point win.

That’s the last time the state’s two largest universities would meet.

With the all-time series tied 2-2, it appears Mizzou is re-igniting the intrastate rivalry on the men’s basketball court.

Former Bears head coach Cuonzo Martin answered fans questions on a recent video interview posted by Mizzou Athletics called #MIZZOOM.  One question asked about the non-conference 2020-21 schedule.

“Like Dick Vitale used to say years ago ‘cupcake games’ I mean you can’t play those games any more,” Martin said.

“You have to play real games.  You have to look at the, I’ll call it RPI, but it’s the NET now, but so many people familiar with RPI, you have to make it work.”

If Mizzou wants an at-large bid come March, that’s what Martin is talking about.  Exchange weaker NET teams with stronger ones.

NET includes a calculation for home wins, road wins, opponent strength of schedule, and scoring margin among other things.

His next comment on the video is interesting.

“So you have to go on the road to make it work.”

Mizzou’s “big get” is playing the Kansas Jayhawks in Kansas City.  You get the Big-12 strength of schedule. 

The Tigers also have Illinois on its non-conference schedule which brings the Big-Ten into the NET. 

Both of those games are close.  No plane rides.  Maybe no hotels?

Mizzou’s first home game is against Utah which brings the Tigers the Pac-12.  And no travel at all.

Thanks to the coronavirus, the state is cutting budgets from its universities.  Missouri State Athletics is missing at least $600,000 from its sports budget thanks to the absence of NCAA Basketball Tournments.  Travel is one thing Kyle Moats said MSU will have to adjust from years past.

No doubt Mizzou is also looking at the same thing; options to fill out its non-conference schedule and improve its NET with little-to-no travel.

Cuonzo continued:

“It’s not final yet with paperwork, but we go in the road to Missouri State and we’ll probably go on the road to Wichita State.  Two high energy games.”

This brings in the Valley and the American for the Tigers.

This will also bring the Show-Me State a fifth game between Mizzou and Missouri State.

If the paperwork is completed, this winter will mark just the second time Mizzou has played in Springfield.  The first time was in 1941 with the Bears winning by three.

1/8/41 – MSU wins 35-32

12/6/86 – MIZ wins 57-53 OT

11/18/88  – MIZ wins 73-54

11/18/98 – MSU wins 72-69