BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Do you have West Virginia going far in your bracket?
Elite Eight? Final Four? Farther?
If so, you have cause for concern.
It's not because of anything the Mountaineers have done wrong. On the contrary,
It's a more a case of the second-round opponent lying in wait for West Virginia on Sunday: Missouri. If the 10th-seeded Tigers play the way they did in Friday's 86-78 win over No. 7 seed Clemson, they'll cause problems for the Mountaineers simply with their chosen style of play.
During the week following Mizzou's early Big 12 ouster, "We didn't relax -- we got after it," said guard
Missouri's goal is the same against any foe -- they want to press relentlessly, force turnovers and beat you down the floor before you have time to blink. The Tigers outscored Clemson 20-5 on points off turnovers and 22-2 on fast-break points.
Enter West Virginia (28-6), an unabashed half-court team that would much prefer a final score in the 50s than the 80s and plays much of the time without a true point guard, seemingly the most important position on the floor when facing a press.
"It comes down to who controls the tempo the most, whether they can make it a slow game or we can make it a helter-skelter, run-and-gun game," said Taylor. "Sometimes it can be easier to get it [faster] because that's the way most kids like to play."
A year ago, Anderson's Tigers ran and pressed their way to the Elite Eight before falling to top seed Connecticut. That Missouri team was more consistent, however, and was a No. 3 seed in the tourney. This year's younger edition slid to a No. 10 seed after losing three of its last four, most notably a 77-56 home rout by rival Kansas and the aforementioned 75-60 Big 12 tourney loss to the hapless Huskers.
Losing starting forward
On Friday, however, English drained 4 of 7 three-pointers and scored 20 points, his highest total since Feb. 6. Prior to the tourney, English watched a YouTube mashup of former Davidson star
"He was just always so poised on the court, he never showed emotion, and that led to straight up, straight down [shots]," said English. "It's like he's in a phone booth."
Missouri will need another phone-booth night from Engish if it hopes to challenge West Virginia and its prolific scorer,
On Friday, however, Huggins -- who faced Anderson's UAB teams while at Cincinnati -- expressed little reservation about Mizzou's press.
"We're ready to handle it. I can tell you that," he said. "We've spent a lot of time on it since the debacle in Cleveland, for a lot of reasons."
There's no question the Mountaineers are more talented than Mizzou, which lacks a premier player like Butler or a dynamic scorer/rebounder like
"I don't think anyone presses like we do, and we do it every day," said Anderson, whose ninth-seeded UAB team knocked off No. 1 seed Kentucky in a 2004 second-round game. "I think it benefits us as we get to tournament play."
Consider yourself warned, West Virginia backers.