Coach Frank Haith says Missouri is ready for NCAA Tournament

Monday, March 12, 2012 | 7:44 p.m. CDT; updated 7:57 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 13, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Missouri men's basketball team says it's well prepared to take on the rigors of the NCAA Tournament.

In the past 10 weeks, the Tigers (30-4) have played 21 games against Big 12 teams. The Big 12 is the only major conference in the country that uses a full round-robin schedule, meaning each team plays every opponent twice — once at home and once on the road.

Missouri's NCAA Tournament opener

No. 2 seed Missouri (30-4)
vs. No. 15 seed Norfolk State (25-9)

WHEN: 3:40 p.m. Friday
WHERE: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 FM; KCMQ/96.7 FM

The Mizzou Ticket Office was allocated a limited number of tickets, and only 2011 Tiger Scholarship Fund members may request seats for Friday's game in Omaha, Neb. For details, call the Mizzou Ticket Office at 1-800-CAT-PAWS, or the Tiger Scholarship Fund at 573-882-0704.

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"True round robin is hard," Missouri coach Frank Haith said last week. "It's a grind. We've been at it. Hopefully, across the country people will see what we've done playing a true round robin has been remarkable. I think it's deserving of six teams in the tournament."

The NCAA Tournament selection committee agreed with Haith, placing six of the 10 Big 12 teams in the Tournament. No other conference had a higher percentage of its teams get into the NCAA Tournament.

"We have really good talent in this league," Haith said. "We have great coaches. We have tremendous fan bases in this league."

Despite that, there is at least one Big 12 coach who thinks the conference didn't get fair treatment from the committee.

In a Monday teleconference, Kansas State coach Frank Martin said the Big 12 was drastically "under-seeded." His Wildcats (21-10) received an eight-seed in the NCAA tournament despite two wins against Missouri and a road win against Baylor.

Kansas, the conference regular-season champion, received a two-seed as did Missouri, which won the conference tournament championship Saturday.

Now that the committee has set the bracket, the Big 12 teams can prove whether or not they play in the best conference.

"Any of those teams get rolling on a good night, they're tough to beat," Missouri guard Matt Pressey said. "I think its prepared us greatly."

Three Big 12 teams start NCAA Tournament play Thursday, and the other three start Friday. Every team except for Texas is favored to win its first game.

Missouri plays its first NCAA tournament game at 3:40 p.m. Friday in Omaha, Neb. The Tigers will face 15-seed Norfolk State (25-9), which won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. If the Tigers win, they will face either No. 7 seed Florida or No. 10 seed Virginia on Sunday.

Missouri enters the game riding the momentum of its three wins in the Big 12 tournament last weekend. The Tigers moved up to No. 3 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls.

"We played three games in three days with seven guys and, shoot, we played about as well as we can play on that last day," Haith said. "That was pretty impressive."

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