KANSAS CITY — Missouri guard Zaire Taylor's statement at the end of Missouri's loss to Nebraska on Wednesday in the Big 12 tournament seemed to sum up how the team felt about its future.
“God willing we’ll be in the NCAA Tournament,” Zaire Taylor said.
The Missouri men’s basketball team has stumbled at the end of the season. The Tigers have lost three of their past four since Justin Safford’s season ended with a knee injury, and they have averaged just 59.5 points in those games. The streak was capped off Wednesday when Missouri lost 70-65 to Nebraska, becoming just the second team in a Big 12 tournament to lose to a 12 seed.
With the early exit, the Tigers will have to wait and see if their accomplishments during the regular season will be enough to warrant an NCAA Tournament bid. The selection committee will announce its choices starting at 5 p.m. Sunday in a broadcast on CBS.
Below is some of the items the committee will look at when making its choices and where experts expect the Tigers to end up:
Record 22-10: Missouri has four wins against teams ranked in the RPI top 50. That will carry some weight for the Tigers when the committee makes their picks. Missouri also has 10 wins in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. The committee will look favorably upon those victories.
However, its win total is also padded with 15 wins against teams that will only make the NCAA Tournament if they win their conference tournaments.
Ratings Percentage Index 45: The RPI is a rankings system that the committee uses to determine what teams should be considered for the NCAA Tournament. The system uses a weighted formula that factors in a team’s record, its opponents’ record, the record of all of the teams its opponent plays and where a game is played. Missouri is ranked No. 45, placing them near the middle of the Big 12, the top conference in the nation according to RPI.
Road/Neutral record 6-8: Perhaps the most troubling issue for Missouri is its struggles away from Mizzou Arena. The Tigers’ record on the road is misleading. Four of the six wins came against the bottom of the Big 12, and Missouri has no wins against teams at the top of the conference. The 15-point loss to Nebraska at the Sprint Center at the end of the season pretty much says it all. Because none of the games will be played in Columbia, this could hurt the Tigers the most.
Key Wins: Kansas State and Texas
Key Losses: at Oklahoma, at Oral Roberts, vs. Nebraska
Missouri’s wins against then-No. 11 Kansas State and then-No. 15 Texas are its biggest wins in conference. However, losses to Big 12 bottom-feeders Oklahoma and Nebraska and the third best Summit League team, Oral Roberts, will not help the Tigers.
Expert Projections: Seeds 8-10
Although the projections are educated guesses until the committee makes its final selections, the majority of NCAA bracket predictors have the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Bracketology expert, Joe Lunardi, and Bracketography.com both have Missouri as a No. 10 seed, three spots lower than it was before its loss to Nebraska. Other experts like Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner and Fox Sports Net’s Chris Kulenych and Craig Gately have Missouri as an No. 8 seed.