Bill and Jim's Excellent Adventure

I'm not sure whether KU basketball coach Bill Self would like to punch Big 12 schedule makers in the nose or hug them.

Within the space of six days, the #2-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (18-1 overall, 5-0 conference) will have faced off against two of their archrivals – or one archrival and one that would like to be, anyway.
 
The Jayhawks slapped around Missouri on Big Monday, 84-65, in the friendly confines. KU's bigs came up, well, big. Cole Aldrich, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris combined for 39 points and 36 rebounds and sent Mizzou back home to their adult book stores, fireworks stands, meth labs and walnut bowls. I don't know if those three could play a better game – the first half, in particular.
 
Iconic 80's pop star Eddie Money sang the National Anthem. Bob Knight called it for ESPN and never once complained about missing the early bird dinner special. Bill Clyde Gillispie, late of Texas A&M and Kentucky, was in the house. Hell, there was even a Chinese lady acrobat spinning plates on sticks at halftime. What more could you want? Granted, it wasn't Donnie Von Moore chasing a mortified Jim Kennedy out an Allen Field House tunnel and administering a beat down in the hallway. But it was still pretty cool.
 
I was a little disappointed and a lot shocked that the Missouri team I was raised to hate played so soft. Sure, they were scrappy and fought hard, but then, so is a puppy with a sock in his mouth. They didn't rebound. If you blinked while a Mizzou player set a screen or pick, you missed it. Finally, they were scared to go into the lane for fear of Cole Aldrich swatting their shots right back at them.
 
MU seemed content getting off those faux picks and screens to run out to 24 feet so they could clank yet another contested three-point shot off the iron. I know Missouri coach Mike Anderson is recruiting players who are supposed to be suited to his "40 Minutes of Hell" system, but I'm not sure I'm seeing it. Missouri used to be so hard-nosed and physical. All I can say is, these are most definitely not your father's Missouri Tigers. Disappointing all around.
 
Now we have Saturday and the resurgent Kansas State Wildcats to look forward to. The Grapes probably have every right to play the Dangerfield card despite still being ranked 11th/13th in the country. Even after a convincing win over then-#1 Texas, people seem to be waiting for their bubble to burst. They almost got it with a home loss to a pedestrian Oklahoma State team and a two-point win Tuesday night at Baylor. At 4-2 in the Big 12, two games behind Kansas, they're holding on by their fingernails to any conference title hopes. I don't think anyone would be surprised if they didn't win the Big 12, but they can still have a season that I don't think anyone thought was possible.
 
KSU's Frank Martin may be the most entertaining coach in the Big 12. Bill Self is entertaining, sure, but in a cool, smooth way. Frank Martin is entertaining in a crazy-eyed, I-could-win-on-Survivor way. If they were singers, coach Self would be Frank Sinatra, circa 1967. Frank Martin would be Ozzy Osborne, circa 1981.
 
The shoulder pads on Martin's suits have gotten a little smaller, but his personality and passion for the game certainly haven't. Neither has his mouth, and that's a compliment. I would imagine that if you're close to coach Martin, you always have a pretty good idea where you stand. That's a good thing. It also makes for terrific news conferences.
 
Speaking of passion, the same Kansas State students whom Jacob Pullen had to beg to come to games last year are back with a vengeance. The energy and excitement at Bramlage will be the best it's been all season. ESPN College Game Day will be in town. Digger Phelps' tie and highlighter will match. I'll ask Jay Bilas if it's true that he was going to come to KU until a young coach named Krzyzewski called him and said, "You don't really want to play for Ted Owens, do you?"
 
It'll be huge. Not "Eddie Money, plate-spinning acrobat, Billy Clyde" huge, but it'll be fun just the same.
 
If Steve Perry sings the anthem, though, all bets are off.

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