When: December 13, 2014
Where: Mizzou Arena; Columbia, MO
The Missouri Tigers and Xavier Musketeers last faced off against each other in the 2008 Puerto Rico Tip-Off where Xavier won 75-71. The all-time series is tied at two apiece and, interestingly enough, the Musketeers' first ever win in the NCAA Tournament was a 70-69 victory over the Tigers in 1987.
In 2014, both teams will be rebuilding to some extent. Xavier will be trying to replace it's two best players from the previous season and Missouri will basically be building its team from the ground up with a new coach.
After the 2013 season, Mizzou head coach Frank Haith jumped ship to become the head coach at Tulsa. Not only did the Tigers lose their coach but Missouri's top three scorers either graduated or left early for the NBA. Kim Anderson has now taken the reigns for Mizzou's basketball and he will have an uphill battle on his hands. Only two seniors return for Missouri, one of which is a transfer from Hawaii, Keith Shamburger, and the other, Keanau Post, has only started three games for the Tigers and averaged 1.5 points last season. Johnathan Williams III, Ryan Rosburg, and Wes Clark are the other returnees, who provide a combined average of 14.7 points per game from 2013 and Rosburg is the only true starter returning.
Xavier lost its top two scorers. Guard Semaj Christon, who averaged 17 points per game in 2013, left for the NBA and forward Justin Martin transferred to SMU to play for Larry Brown. Quality big man Matt Stainbrook returns as well as senior guard Dee Davis. Guard Myles Davis and forward James Farr also return a fair amount of additional experience for the Musketeers. The Musketeers also picked up a quality recruit in guard Larry Austin Jr., who changed his commitment from Tennessee to Xavier after then Volunteers head coach Cuonzo Martin left the program to become the head coach at California. Austin should provide further depth and if he lives up to his expectations, will be a main contributor very soon.
Neither of these teams are known for their offensive production and both had big losses during the offseason. This is not to say this game will not be entertaining, it just may not have major national implications. No matter what, it will be an excellent chance for both teams to face quality opponents before jumping into their respective conference schedules.