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Missouri Tigers Vs. Colorado Buffaloes Preview: Let Conference Play Begin!

The Missouri Tigers and Colorado Buffaloes have been playing basketball against each other since CU joined the Tigers' conference in 1947, forming the Big Seven.

With CU leaving the now-Big 12, this may be the last time the two teams compete against each other in Boulder. And it should be a dandy of a game.

Though CU (11-4) hasn't met the expectations of some "experts" (ahem, me), they are starting to play better ball, as evident by having won nine of their last ten games.

Mizzou, on the other hand, is playing about as good of basketball as anyone in the nation. They are currently 14-1 and ranked 8th in the country. If it weren't for a errant call giving the Georgetown Hoyas three points on a shot clearly inside the arc, then the Tigers would be sitting at a perfect 15-0.

There is also the Alec Burks factor. Burks grew up in Grandview, MO, just outside of Kansas City, but wasn't recruited by his home-state Tigers. Burks proved the Mizzou scouting department wrong when he burst onto the Big 12 scene last season and took home Freshman of the Year honors.

Alongside running mate Cory Higgins, the Buff tandem is about as talented as any two guards in the conference. They are also seeing an emergence of some of the Buff auxiliary players, in Austin Dufault, Marcus Relphorde and Levi Knutson. All of this offense translates into the eighth highest scoring team in the NCAA.

In order for the Buffs to win, they need to step up their defense. Mizzou is scoring at a blistering 86.4 points per game, slightly better than CU's 84.8, and good for fifth nationally.

The Tigers aren't a team that relies on a one or two players to put the ball in the basket. Mizzou currently has five guys averaging in double figure scoring, and ten guys averaging at least ten minutes played per game.

Led by double-digit scorers Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers, Kim English, Mike Dixon and Ricardo Ratliffe, the Tigers can just hurt a team in so many ways. Inside, outside, drive, dish.

For the Buffs to win they need to stop Mizzou from scoring. If you stop Missouri from putting the ball in the bucket, you stop them from the ability to full court press you. Sounds simple, but their full court press creates turnovers, which result in made baskets and more pressure.

Though the Buffs don't like to slow it down, it's not a bad idea to play zone defense and pace themselves for 40 minutes. Otherwise, the Buffs will just be another notch on Mizzou's win column.

The game tips at 11:30 a.m. MT at the Coors Events Center in Boulder and can be seen on ESPN3.com.