ST. LOUIS — We're barely into the 2020-2021 college basketball season and I'm already pretty much exhausted trying to keep up with schedules. Heck, Missouri just announced Monday that they're now playing No. 20 Oregon two days later in Omaha.
No matter what the COVID-19 pandemic throws at the NCAA this year, they're going to try to weather the storm and patch it together any way they can.
But with schedules being written down and torn up on an almost daily basis, there's a pretty easy option for two of our local teams, who wouldn't have to drive but two hours either way to make it happen.
Why doesn't Mizzou just play SLU?
I'm aware that's sort of a loaded question around these parts. But that's dumb and it shouldn't be that way, especially now in the middle of the pandemic.
This shouldn't be complicated. But it apparently still is.
The Tigers and Billikens haven't met on the basketball court in almost 19 years to the date when Missouri beat Saint Louis 69-67 on Dec. 3, 2001.
So why haven't they played since then?
Well as one SLU athletic department official told 5 On Your Side, "It takes two teams to play a game."
Is it all about some kind of an ego or pride? If Mizzou really doesn't want to play SLU, as many fans will claim, because the Tigers have everything to lose (recruiting wise and status wise) to their in-state competitors and nothing to gain, I'll argue that's just utter nonsense.
Or in perfect the words of my esteemed colleague and 5 On Your Side sports director Frank Cusumano: "Baloney."
I think even the most passionate Mizzou fan will admit SLU has the better overall team this year on paper. But guess who has the big St. Louis recruits on their roster? Yeah, Mizzou does.
A Missouri loss in this game wouldn't somehow magically flip the entire city to thinking the Tigers are second-class citizens. And a Missouri win would be a huge boost to their NCAA Tournament resume, because SLU will almost for sure be in the field of 64 come March.
This game would be good for everyone.
And let's look at it historically.
Missouri leads the all-time match up by just one win. It's not like they're some kind of dominant force that can't risk playing "little old SLU" and being embarrassed with a loss.
Mizzou is 7-6 against SLU in 13 meetings dating back to 1963. Only four of those 13 games has had a margin of victory greater than 10 points. These are fun games, and the players, and fans get up for them.
A meeting this year would be extra-special.
Mizzou has four St. Louis area players on its squad, who I'm sure would love to play near home again even if it's not in front of fans.
The Tigers also have walk-on Brooks Ford. Yep, that's Travis Ford's son. How cool would it be to see Brooks get into the game, hit a shot and wink at his dad on the other bench as he's running back down the court?
I don't really have time for any petty excuses of why these two programs can't figure this out, especially this year. Both of these teams need games against quality opponents, and there's an easy way to make that happen against a team already in the same state.
I am fully prepared to "lock" athletic directors Jim Sterk and Chris May in a Zoom call until they hammer out a way to make this happen.
The fans want it, the teams need it and it just makes too much sense.
So come on, Mizzou and SLU, give area hoops fans a gift we could all sink our teeth into this holiday season.