Missouri Caps Off Amazing Season With NCAA Bid

Dean BryantContributor IMarch 18, 2009

The Big 12 Tournament Champion Missouri Tigers are headed for the NCAA Championship Tournament for the first time since 2003.

In their six-year absence, the Missouri men's basketball team has experienced losing seasons, violations, and suspensions. Not much was expected of the Tigers this season: They were picked by the Big 12 coaches to finish seventh in the conference.

Mizzou returned just six players from last year's team (DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons, J.T. Tiller, Matt Lawrence, Justin Safford, and Michael Anderson Jr.), meaning the Tigers had to incorporate seven new faces to round out their squad this year. They welcomed junior college transfers Zaire Taylor and Keith Ramsey and brought in five freshmen: Kimmie English, Marcus Denmon, Miguel Paul, Laurence Bowers, and Steve Moore.

Shortly after the season began, the Tigers added a 14th player, sophomore walk-on Jarrett Sutton. Sutton got the opportunity to join the team when he played a pick-up game with none other than coach Mike Anderson himself.

The third-seeded Tigers will take on Cornell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Boise, Idaho. The winner of that game will face either Marquette or Utah State in the second round.