Missouri Tigers: Big XII Champs Set Sights On Big Dance

jonathan staubCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2009

The Missouri Tigers have won their first Big XII Tournament Championship. After up-ending Baylor 73-60, the Tigers are now turning their attention to the NCAA Tournament.


This will be the first time since 2003 that Mizzou will be in the “Bid Dance.” They went 4-0 this year, after losing four consecutive Big XII Tourney games, and defeated a Baylor team that was trying to become the first team with a losing conference record in the regular season to win the conference tournament.


The fifth No. 3 seed to win the Big XII Tourney, the Tigers should receive no worse than a four seed, most likely a three seed, in the NCAA Tournament. Ironically enough, there should be two other Big XII teams ranked ahead of them in Oklahoma and Kansas; both the Sooners and Jayhawks are looking at two seeds.


DeMarre Carroll, the conference tournament MVP, will be looking to lead Missourion a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Carroll leads the Tigers in minutes (27.7), points (16.7 ppg), rebounds (7.2 per game), and field goal percentage (.565).


"Once I transferred here, everything started going wrong. I was just looking around like, 'Man, what did I get myself into?' But my uncle told me just keep having faith and the sun will come up at the end," Carroll said after being named MVP.


The stand-out forward is finally seeing the fruits of his labor. The Tigers are a legit threat to break through this year and reach the elite eight, perhaps even the Final Four.


Carroll continued, "I got shot, we lost a lot of games and so on, but look at me now. I'm standing here smiling, and I'm a Big 12 champion."


After a stellar performance which included 20 points and nine rebounds, Carroll is looking to lead a deep Mizzou team to a new level.


The Tigers play a deep rotation. Nine players have played in all 33 games, one other (Leo Lyons) has played in 32. Another player, Laurence Bowers, has played in 28 games, while the remaining three on the bench have played in 11,17, and 19 games respectively.


It is not unreasonable to think that the Tigers will play an 11-man rotation come tourney time. This will not only keep them fresh, but allow them to wear down opposing teams with a relentless assault on offense and defense.


The Tigers have nine players that are averaging double-digit minutes throughout the season. They get contributions from everyone on their roster, all the way down to the last three guys on the bench.


The Tigers have one weakness that could be easily exposed against some of the nation’s elite. Only two players on the Mizzou roster, Carroll and Lyons, average double digit points per game.


If these two are shut down, then Missouri will need someone to step up big for the Tigers to advance.


If you are looking for a sleeper team that could go deep, and is being overlooked by virtually everyone outside the state of Missouri, then go with the Tigers as your unlikely choice to reach Detroit.


They have quality wins over Kansas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State (twice). Keeping this in mind, I don’t think that Mizzou reaching Detroit is all that unlikely.


Keep the Tigers in mind when filling out their bracket, they are ready to shock the nation.