The Missouri Tigers are 7–0 and destroying non-conference opponents behind the nearly 20 points a game by Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. However, all of their opponents have been considered weak. Similarly, the UCLA Bruins are 7–0 behind the 20+ point average scoring from Jordan Adams and have the exact same criticisms about their schedule. Weak schedules and high scoring offenses make both teams look like their defenses aren’t very good, which is why their upcoming match-up is the most important of the season for either team.
Both teams will face off in Missouri on December 7. The winner will jump into the top 25 (or remain in UCLA’s case) and the loser will be berated on all sides from critics and fans alike until the start of conference play when they can prove themselves again.
Steve Alford has done an outstanding job at UCLA so far, but it’s hard to determine his immediate impact as a first year head coach because of how weak their opponents have been. If the Bruins were to lose it will not be pretty. UCLA has unrealistic expectations for head coaches, and a loss to an unranked opponent, even an undefeated one like Missouri, would be seen as unacceptable.
On the other hand, Frank Haith has perhaps been given too much leniency by Missouri. He’s failed to reach the second round of the NCAA tournament for his entire time with the Tigers. There are no rumors circulating about Haith’s departure, but if Missouri fails to make the 2014 NCAA Tournament I doubt he’ll be head coach next season.
However, both teams are great basketball teams with definite Sweet Sixteen capabilities. This will be a huge game with major implications for both teams, win or lose. Expect a high scoring game where the victor is whichever team has the better field goal percentage.