COLUMBIA — Before it got a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament Sunday, the Missouri men's basketball team won its second Big 12 tournament title in four years. It's not a bad way to bid adieu to the conference.
Missouri beats Baylor for Big 12 tournament title
A final grudge match against Kansas would have been ideal, but the Tigers still celebrated a third victory this season against Baylor in the Big 12 tournament final. Senior Kim English shook off a bruised thigh to score 19 points in the 90-75 victory on Saturday. He was named the tournament's most outstanding player. Guard Phil Pressey also made the all-tournament team.
Earlier in the tournament, Missouri cruised to an 88-70 win against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals Thursday and an 81-67 victory against Texas in the semifinals Friday. The Tigers were 5-0 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City this season and won each game by at least 14 points. Kansas lost to Baylor in the tournament semifinals.
ESPN.com's Jason King wrote that first-year coach Frank Haith has come a long way since being ridiculed when he was hired last spring. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star said the Big 12 will be missing a heck of a show when Missouri leaves for the Southeastern Conference.
On Sunday, Missouri and some of its fans watched the NCAA tournament selection show from Mizzou Arena. The Tigers got the No. 2 seed in the West region. They will play No. 15 seed Norfolk State in their first game Friday in Omaha. Should they win that game and the next against either No. 7 seed Florida or No. 10 seed Virginia, they will play the following weekend in Phoenix. That's where Missouri played when it advanced to the Elite Eight in 2009.
Jeff Hathaway, the selection committee chairman, said that because of "concerns" about Missouri's nonconference strength of schedule, the Tigers not only did not get a No. 1 seed but were the No. 8 seed overall (the last No. 2 seed).
Missouri was undefeated in nonconference play, but besides Notre Dame (a No. 7 seed in the tournament), Missouri's nonconference opponents all underachieved. They include California (a ranked team at the beginning of the year but barely made it into the tournament as a play-in No. 12 seed), Illinois, Villanova and Old Dominion. Missouri guard Marcus Denmon tweeted, "Moral of the story schedule tough non conference games lose em get a high seed."
Women's basketball team's season comes to an end
The Missouri women's basketball team lost to No. 2-seeded Oklahoma 70-59 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament Thursday. The 10th-seeded Tigers finished the season 13-18 overall.
The day before, the team upset No. 7 seed Oklahoma State. Missouri almost blew a 22-point lead but held on to win 71-65. It was only the Tigers' third conference win of the season and its first conference tournament victory since 2008.
Missouri softball, baseball teams sweep
After a somewhat slow start for the Missouri softball and baseball teams, both bounced back with good performances this week.
The softball team finished 6-0 over the weekend in the DeMarini Invitational and won each game in convincing style. The Tigers won each game by run rule (three against Alcorn State, two against Boise State and one against Northern Illinois) in five innings and by at least eight runs.
Football team begins spring practice, DGB reflects on recruiting process
The Missouri football team held its first spring practice Tuesday. Many players couldn't participate because of injuries. The team will hold its first scrimmage on Saturday as well as two others before the Black and Gold spring game April 14. Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune wrote that Missouri's wide receivers are motivated by more than just incoming freshman Dorial Green-Beckham.
Green-Beckham, the top recruit in the nation who signed to play at Missouri on Feb. 1, was in Columbia over the weekend with the Hillcrest (Springfield) High School basketball team to play in the Class 4 Show-Me Showdown. He and his father, Hillcrest football coach John Beckham, said the hysteria surrounding his recruitment has died down but not completely gone away since he made his decision.