Tom Keegan: Kansas-Missouri basketball game possible as soon as 2018

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson raises up the fieldhouse during overtime against Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

All the whining in the world won't bring the basketball Border War back to life, but an NCAA tournament bracket has the potential to make it happen as soon as March of 2018.

Head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, Missouri’s offseason hire, already has made a huge recruiting splash and probably isn't done.

Jontay Porter, younger brother of Michael Porter, the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruit in the Class of 2017, could reveal as soon as today that he is reclassifying from the 2018 class to 2017, which means he could fill MU's final scholarship, strengthening Martin’s already loaded class. The younger Porter is ranked No. 11 in the Class of 2018 by Rivals, which has Missouri No. 7 in the nation in its school recruiting rankings.

That ranking doesn’t even include the addition that could prove to be the most significant of any Mizzou recruit not named Porter. Canisius College graduate transfer Kassius Robertson averaged 16.1 points per game and made 41 percent of his three-pointers for the Golden Griffins last season. He’ll face better competition in the SEC, which is a big reason he decided to transfer. He'll also have more room to shoot because opposing defenses won't make stopping him the No. 1 priority, as was the case at Canisius. Robertson scored 16 points in a loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena last November, which whet his appetite for big-time basketball atmospheres.

In addition to Robertson, Missouri has its three leading scorers back, two of them juniors (Kevin Puryear and Terrence Phillips), one a senior (Jordan Barnett). So that’s four experienced players joining the four (five if the younger Porter reclassifies) freshmen.

Michael Porter is a 6-foot-9, 220-pound do-it-all forward. Shot-blocking center Jeremiah Tilmon, ranked No. 42 by Rivals, is 6-10, 235 pounds. C.J. Roberts, No. 104, is a point guard, Blake Harris a shooting guard. Jontay Porter is a 6-10, 240-pound post player.

It won’t be an easy challenge for Martin to blend so many newcomers, but he’ll have talent and a balanced mix of point guards (Phillips and Roberts), wings (Michael Porter, Robertson and Harris) and inside players (Tilmon, possibly Jontay Porter, Barnett and Puryear).

That’s a nine-man rotation featuring four players who last season averaged double figures in Division I and five hotshot recruits, one a superstar.

On paper, the Tigers project as anywhere from, oh, let’s say a No. 7 seed to a No. 10 seed. KU has been a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in eight consecutive seasons, so projecting a ninth is reasonable.

So if Kansas is a No. 1 seed and Missouri an 8 or 9, or KU is a No. 2 and Missouri a 7 or 10, and they’re in the same region, Selection Sunday will take on a new level of euphoria for both states.

Then, if Martin improves his NCAA tournament record to 4-2 with a first-round victory and KU coach Bill Self improves his NCAA tourney mark to 44-18 by winning in the first round, Kansas and Missouri would meet in a basketball game for the first time since Feb. 25, 2012, when Kansas stormed back from a 19-point second half deficit to defeat the Tigers 87-86 in overtime.

Many dominoes must fall for it to happen, but far crazier things have occurred in March. Here's hoping it happens. If it does, the result might make former Missouri chancellor R. Bowen Loftin fear his wishes for the rest of his life.

Comments

Andy Godwin

"KU has been a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in eight consecutive seasons, so projecting a ninth is reasonable." I appreciate the wonderful rut KU has been in regarding winning the Big 12 and being a high seed in the NCAA tournament, but until we see how the front court develops, my expectations are a bit muted. It will be interesting, for those who care what happens with our neighbors to the East, to see if Cuonzo Martin is able of recruiting year after year and building a program. Unlike football, the fortunes of a basketball program can change with just one recruiting class.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryce Landon

It's a wonderful rut to be in, but I'd appreciate it more if being a 1 or 2 had translated into more than two Final Fours and at least one more NCAA title.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Craig Carson

I think Azibuike will develop just fine, probably be a 12ppg 9-10rpg. Lightfoot was alot better on D than I thought. The X factor is gonna be Preston. KU needed Bragg to develop into a reliable scorer for the front court to be productive last year and he didnt. If Preston lays an egg like Bragg did, then the front court could have an issue.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryce Landon

Have you seen Cuonzo Martin's postseason track record? It has produced mainly NIT appearances and only two NCAA Tournament trips - a Sweet 16 appearance with Tennessee that had more to do with the team getting hot at the right time than with Martin's coaching, and a one-and-done appearance for California that ended with an upset by Hawaii. Missouri hired a mediocre coach, and they will get mediocre results, regardless of who they have on their roster.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Craig Carson

I thought the same thing. Yeah Mizzou will have one possibly real good year, especially if the younger Porter re-classifies..but after this year, when possibly both Porters leave..then what does Martin do? He got fortunate the dominoes fell the way they did..he wont get that fortunate ever again. I get the feeling if MU is a 7-10 seed and KU is a 1 or 2, the NCAA will do what it did with KU- WSU a few years back and force them to play because it will draw alot of hype.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Danny Hernandez

Martin had Raab and Jaylen Brown at Cal and achieved crap. He's a very good recruiter but a standard coach

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Stephen Simmons

Feel like I just got click-baited into one of those "see what this child star looks like today" scams.

Non story positioned as something it isn't. Headline implies that there is some kind of REAL effort to bring back the KU/MU rivalry games. Except there isn't. Duping your readers doesn't build trust, Tom.

Of course there is ALWAYS a chance that we'd end up facing each other in the NCAA tourney (ask Roy Williams about having to face Kansas there). Mizzou hasn't been much to talk about in recent years, but turning it around enough to "make" the tourney isn't a major feat for a team in a power conference who has a reasonable basketball history. And if/when KU and MU both make the tourney, it's entirely possible they could run into each other. Throw in the NCAA likely WANTING it to happen, and it's not a stretch to put us both in the same bracket.

This is a far cry from implying that they'll somehow appear on the 2018 schedule.

Here's another hot lead for you: a giant meteor could hit Columbia from outer space and end their entire sports program, leaving only a giant smoking crater. Here's a headline you can use: "Is MU Athletics in Danger of Continuing?" Go for it.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryce Landon

This is what's known as "fake news".

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Was there really ever any doubt this was click-bait?

I was really happy that it seemed to be a fully developed article and liked the last line in particular. Good job connecting to recent news.

It might have been interesting to compare them to the uk freshmen led teams. I would predict that without some miracle of pg development they will be similar to uk-Robert Morris or the 2017 dukies.

Dukies - doesn't that sound like something you clean up when you have a baby?

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Don Everett

Tom, slow day at the desk? Website reads a little slow? Headlines have to generated for you to come up with a story. Until this happens, if it ever does, go onto something/anything else. Besides, football should be the focus right now unless you want to talk about the Italy basketball trip. NO ONE AT KU CARES ANYTHING ABOUT misery!!

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryce Landon

Apparently we do still care about Misery. Here we are commenting on a story written about the KU/MU rivalry. Tom Keegan accomplished his goal and got us to respond to it.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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David Robinett

Frank's latest summer league highlights: https://youtu.be/W5EwJ0dzFFE
awesome! (he will be fine in the league)

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Good Link

4 months, 1 week ago

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David Robinett

btw, get past the pre-roll advertisement, then advance to the 25 second mark to avoid an embedded 2nd advertisement on the YT video

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Gavin Fritton

Obviously, anything is possible. Also, I don't believe the NCAA when they say they don't look at team/school rivalries when they create potential matchups, so I wouldn't put anything past them.

The problem is that if KU is a 1/2 seed, they would almost certainly be placed in Wichita and Omaha for their games. If Mizzou is a 7-10 (as predicted), there'd be no way to guarantee they'd get that kind of favorable treatment. Again, I wouldn't put anything past the NCAA to try to force this into happening, but that would be pretty blatant and they'd have to treat some other teams pretty badly in order to force that result.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Wouldn't it be fun to hear them cry if they were a 7 and got shipped out west instead of playing closer to home.

"Coach Self has the selection committee in his back pocket!!!"

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Even better will be watching them get Robert Morrised in the first round.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mike Auer

You are really putting your self out on a limb if you are predicting Misery to a game in the tournament.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Fitzgerald

My girlfriends boss told me he hates KU so much he refuses to even go to KU Med for him and his wife and kids. I simply said I have no issues with Mizzou. In fact I had forgot they even existed and just assumed they closed their football and basketball programs after they left the Big 12. His face turned beet red and he rushed out of the room.

4 months, 1 week ago

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Bryce Landon

Is your girlfriend's boss Norm Stewart?

4 months, 1 week ago

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Micky Baker

i don't really care. Mizzou walked away from it, not Kansas.

4 months, 1 week ago

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Dennis Mahorney

Headline should have been, "KU and Missouri could meet in the National Tournament" and saved me reading this.

4 months, 1 week ago

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Mike Kendall

If and when it happens, the KU-Mizzou basketball game in the NCAA Tournament would be fun to watch, as long as, we win the game--hee, hee. Any new competition to compete with the Wildkitties, of Kentucky, is just fine with me. Just curious---some of you long-time, hardcore KU fans and/or alums--would you want Kentucky to win or Mizzou? I am trying not to ask a dumb question--just wondering.

4 months, 1 week ago

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Greg Ledom

I don't want Missouri to win anything. That was easy.

4 months, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Man, you ask a tough question Mike. If they could ever find a way for both of them to lose, I'd vote for that.

Have enjoyed the humor with this, folks.

4 months, 1 week ago

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Mike Greer

If you're a native Kansan that's an easy question, Kentucky never burned your town. I keep digging along the MO / KS border hoping MO will break loose and wash down the Mississippi. Set them adrift, serves them right for sneaking out under the cover of darkness.

4 months, 1 week ago

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