The Missouri Tigers have lost two games this season – both of which can be linked to key injuries. In the loss to Louisville, the Tigers were without the scoring potential of Jabari Brown. Missouri will shrug off Saturday’s loss to the Ole Miss Rebels on the same thoughts as everyone else in the country: “Laurence Bowers was out. It doesn’t count.” Bowers will miss the next game against Georgia as well. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is just as good as Phil Pressey, and will contain the passing superstar throughout the game. Do not be surprised if this game ends up being much closer than expected, because Missouri is a different team without Bowers. However, when March comes around, every game counts, and Missouri cannot succeed in the tournament without a healthy team.
The Road to March is a long one, and Bowers has already been injured and out for a season before. Missouri is a great team, capable of beating almost any team in the country any given day. However, one injured/suspended/sick/fouled out – whatever – player would be devastating to the Tigers. We have seen how quickly the Tigers fall apart without Bowers and Brown; imagine what would happen without Pressey. Missouri cannot afford any players missing games, and the single player reliance will come back to haunt the Tigers.
Missouri does not have the depth to win an NCAA tournament. In order to win an NCAA tournament, a team needs at least a good seventh man, possibly even eighth – Missouri has neither. The Tigers could go all the way, but it is crucial that Missouri stays healthy, or there might be a repeat of the Norfolk State debacle from last year.