Even after taking the Big 12 tournament with rather ease, the Missouri Tigers were still snubbed of a No. 1 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament. As a No. 2 seed in the West, the Tigers cannot accept anything less than a Final Four berth to prove that they deserved to be the top team in a region.
The Tigers, who were No. 5 in the nation coming into the Big 12 tourney, took the field by storm. In their route to winning the Big 12 title, they outscored their three opponents—Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor—by a total of 259-212.
Even after defeating all those teams, not to mention the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks falling to the Bears—a team in which the Tigers handled 90-75 in the title game—the Tigers still lost out on a No. 1 seed to both the Michigan State Spartans and the North Carolina Tar Heels.
First and foremost, the records should speak for themselves. The Tigers went 30-4 this season, while MSU went 27-7 and UNC finished 29-5. While all three records are impressive, the Tigers finished just two games behind the Kentucky Wildcats and Syracuse Orange.
While the Spartans certainly deserved a spot with their title run in the Big Ten championship, their victory wasn't any more impressive than the Tigers. Still, they somehow jumped the Tigers from the No. 8 spot in the rankings to take a top seed in the West region.
The Tar Heels on the other hand, fell in the final of the ACC tourney to the Florida State Seminoles, and they still were given a No. 1 seed.
Even in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, the Tigers were ranked No. 3 while the Spartans followed at No. 4 and the Tar Heels at No. 5.
The Tigers must play the cards they were dealt, and they will most definitely be doing so with a chip on their shoulder.
They will have some tough competition to get through. It might include taking down the likes of Florida in the third round, Marquette in the Sweet 16 or even the Spartans or Louisville in the Elite Eight. But this should be the challenge they want to prove they deserve to be dancing in New Orleans.
After what they accomplished in the Big 12 tourney, the Tigers no longer have much to prove. They just have to go out there and continue to do what they have done this season—win.
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