When last we saw the St. Louis University Billikens, they were overcoming a sluggish start to dispatch Kansas City 62-46 back on Dec. 23 at Chaifetz Arena.
When last we saw the Missouri Tigers, they were crumbling in the second half of their 78-63 loss last Tuesday at Mississippi State.
Both teams have been on pause due to COVID-19 issues, joining a slew of Division I schools on hiatus.
How rusty will the Billikens (7-1 this season) and Tigers (7-2) look when they come back? How many games will it take them to regain peak form?
Will they ever regain the swagger they demonstrated before the holidays?
Fans can’t help but wonder about that. Stakes are high for both programs as the COVID cloud hangs ominously over their promising seasons.
The Billikens, ranked No. 24 in the latest Associated Press poll despite their inactivity, have a clear shot at making the NCAA Tournament bracket.
So do the 17th-ranked Tigers — although their path through the Southeastern Conference is fraught with peril, as their rocky 1-2 start in league play underscored.
When fully operational, SLU is better positioned to make a deep run. The Billikens have a confident squad featuring excellent offensive chemistry along with their usual commitment to tight defense and relentless rebounding.
Nonconference victories over LSU and North Carolina State solidified their postseason credentials. Their Atlantic 10 schedule could become burdensome if they make up games, but they should have enough depth to handle that load.