In my preseason picks I had MU cruising on offense to an easy 3-0 start, before a combination of being in the Virgin Islands and facing their first tough defense from Drake or Mississippi dropped them to 3-1. Obviously tomorrow I will be hoping I was wrong in the preseason.
Vander Blue’s explosion Friday night to hit his first 9 shots, including two treys, en route to a 95-73 win caps an incredible opening three games during which MU scored an average of 17 points per game MORE than predicted for an average 95-60 win on 76 trips per game down the court:
|1st 3 games||MU||Opponents||Trips|
However, heading into Sunday’s clash, Mississippi’s defense has also been even better than expected, with the top shot-blocking duo in the country leading by far the best defense MU will have faced:
|Mount St. Mary’s||223rd|
MUs 99-point performance against Norfolk State did look even more impressive when Norfolk State shut out Drexel for more than six minutes Friday night en route to a huge upset that pits them against TCU in the other semifinal that will determine MUs opponent Monday night at 7:30 CST, should the Warriors win Sunday night.
But when you match up MU’s incredible offensive punch against Mississippi’s defense, you see this will be a real test position-by-position.
|Position||MU offense||Mississippi Defense|
|PG||MU leads nation in assists behind Junior’s 20; D. Wilson’s 1 turnover in 48 minutes||NINE! Steals Friday between Nelson (6) and Aniefiok (3)|
|SG||DJO 20 ppg, 4 apg; Mayo 23 pts in last 33 minutes on 5 of 8 treys||Ex-MU recruit Nick Williams their one guard with size (6-4, 225) to rebound without fouling|
|SF||Vander 17 of 25 shooting (68%) but may need J. Jones & Anderson height vs. Miss||6-7 Holloway averaged 7.4 rebounds as soph before sitting out last year|
|PF||Crowder leads in rebounds (22), steals (8) & 2nd in scoring; J. Wilson may be key||At 6-9, Henry a matchup problem and one of top shot-blockers and rebounders (14 Reb. Friday)|
|C||Otule 9 ppg, 5 rpg; Gardner 8 of 10 from floor||Cox may start, but 6-8 Buckner 2nd best shot blocker in country behind James of Flo St.|
Is MU so confident and on a roll that they can overcome Mississippi’s defense to set up a Monday night championship game against upset winners Norfolk State or TCU, or will Mississippi be able to frustrate MU and grind out the win?
Among players returning to a major conference, the following are the top shot-blockers based on the percentage of opponents’ two-points shots they block:
|1||Bernard James||Florida St.||6-f-10||13.46|
|3||Ty Walker||Wake Forest||7-f-0||12.71|
|4||John Henson||North Carolina||6-f-10||11.56|
|6||Daniel Miller||Georgia Tech||6-f-11||9.78|