Included is my Super Bowl XLVII pick, but it all starts with those S-L-U Billikens, and a message for the Missouri Tigers.
The Saint Louis Billikens are hitting their stride when it counts. Back-to-back wins against Butler (9) and fellow A-10 rival Dayton have the Bills at 16-5 overall and 5-2 in the conference.
Rob Loe’s emergence has been remarkable. Loe, a 6’11 junior from New Zealand, was often criticized as being “allergic to the rim” in previous years. Well, he’s putting a strong campaign together with his best games coming against the toughest opponents, scoring over 10 points per game in conference play.
I know the late Rick Majerus would be proud of Loe, whom he aggressively recruited, touting him as a game changer.
SLU has won four in a row, improving to 13-2 at the Chaifetz Arena. The Bills are finding their defensive moxy, leading the A-10 in scoring defense, yielding 57.8 ppg.
At this point, bring on the scuffling Mizzou Tigers.
The sleeping Tigers awoke today and defeated Auburn 91-77 at (take a guess) HOME! The Tigers are a dramatically different team at Mizzou Arena, echoed by their 13-0 record this season. Mizzou is 0-4 in non-neutral court road games, and after their loss at LSU last Wednesday, coach Frank Haith flat-out said the current squad is not a good “listening team”, and there was “a disconnect somewhere”.
Mizzou is 79-4 at home since 2008-2009, but road contests have been a struggle since then as well.
Missouri came into the Auburn game ranked 2nd nationally with 42.5 rebounds per game, and out-rebounded Auburn 29-26 today.
The Tigers have this unwavering confidence that at times comes off as rather bullish. Instead of just playing basketball and staying within their system, they play like a hybrid between the Harlem Globetrotters and Miami Heat. Couple problems with such an approach: 1) they’re not that good 2) they’re not that good. Yeah, we understand, you guys play at Mizzou — so why the tough guy persona?
Perhaps instead of playing street ball the Tigers should play some defense, and use their size advantage as a weapon.
Bernie Miklasz wrote an article regarding how Joe Flacco’s teammates love his even keel attitude, and related it to Rams fans wanting to see Sam Bradford scream and holler.
Well, lets just hold the phone. Flacco also has leadership instilled around him to take that pressure off.
Center Matt Birk (15 years), guard Bobbie Williams (12 years), tackle Byrant McKinnie (11 years), WR Anquan Boldin (10 years), FB Vonta Leach (9 years), and Ray Rice (5 years).
When you don’t have the luxury of veteran leadership at those units, Bradford should definitely step up and take on a role like Andrew Luck did this season. Luck benefited from only WR Reggie Wayne with over 10 years of experience offensively.
Super Bowl XLVII Pick
Forget the spread, the Baltimore Ravens will win the Lomardi Trophy Sunday night. The Ravens had two weeks to prepare for the QB option, and unlike Green Bay or Atlanta, they actually possess linebackers that can run.
I do think the game will be close, perhaps inside the 3.5-point spread — but this is Ray Lewis’ time. His self-proclaimed “last ride” will be a ride into destiny. The football version of the 2004 Boston Red Sox…the next Super Bowl Champions…the Baltimore Ravens.
Enjoy the game.