(From left to right) Kim English, Mike Dixon, Marcus Denmon, coach Haith and Matt Pressey are showered with confetti when it’s announced the Tigers will be a No. 2 seed in the West region. Missouri has the second-most NCAA tournament appearances without making it to the Final Four (25).
Story and Photos by Ryan Williams
Video by Kaveh Kaghazi
It might not have been the result the Missouri men’s basketball team expected to have Sunday at 5 p.m. The NCAA selection placed Missouri in the West region as a No. 2 seed.
Going into Sunday’s selection show celebration, a lot of talk was around Missouri’s potential seeding after the Tigers had an impressive run in Kansas City, Mo. to win the Big 12 conference championship.
After beating Baylor Saturday night in the Big 12 tournament final, there was speculation about whether Mizzou would be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the West region (Phoenix) or Midwest region (St. Louis). Some thought the Tigers would have to beat Kansas in order to get a No. 1 seed from the NCAA selection committee. That proved true on Sunday.
Missouri was given the eighth overall seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, despite winning its conference tournament and finishing the season with a record of 30-4.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Missouri is the first team from a power six conference (Big 12, Pac 12, Big 10, ACC, SEC, and Big East) to not earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament after finishing the season with 30-plus wins.
When the No. 1 seeds were announced via CBS on the monitors at Mizzou arena, there were some boos from the fans and many looks of despair and disbelief on the players faces. But coach Frank Haith addressed the media with his thoughts on the seeding after the selections.
“It doesn’t matter whether we’re a No. 1 or No. 2 seed,” Haith said. “The only difference is what color jerseys we’ll be wearing. We just want to win games.”
Thousands of fans showed up to Mizzou Arena to see how high and where the Tigers were going to be seeded. There were games and prizes set up for the fans. Cheerleaders and Golden Girls were in attendance as the event on Sunday at the arena could be compared to that of a high school pep rally.
The Tigers came out to a standing ovation from fans, and seniors Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Steve Moore and Jarrett Sutton addressed the crowd to give them thanks for being supportive of the team all season and showing up in Kansas City, Mo. for the Big 12 tournament. Jarrett Sutton ended his speech by saying they were going to the NCAA tournament with plans of bringing another trophy back.
A disappointed Missouri men’s basketball team watches the projection screen as the No. 1 seeds are announced and their name is not called. Missouri has not been a top seed in the NCAA tournament since 1994.
Missouri has had success in tournaments this season. They won the CBE classic early in the season, beating two NCAA tournament teams (California and Notre Dame) and just recently the Big 12 tournament. The Tigers have the second-most NCAA tournament appearances without a trip to the Final Four (BYU has the most).
“Obviously we are really excited about the opportunity to continue to play this time of year,” Haith said.
“Postseason is really fun. These guys deserve to have an opportunity to compete for a national championship, and that’s what we will start to do come Friday.”
The Tigers have a long road ahead of them. The other top teams in their region are seeded as such: Michigan State (1), Marquette (3) and Louisville (4). Michigan State (Big Ten) and Louisville (Big East) both won its conference tournaments. The West region is the only region that has three conference champions in it from the Power Six conferences.
The main focus for the Tigers, though, is Friday’s game vs. Norfolk State in Omaha, Neb. 3:40 pm on TNT. Norfolk State was 25-9 on the season and MEAC champions for the first time in school history. If the Tigers win, they would face the winner of No. 7 Florida and No. 10 Virginia in the second round.