COLUMBIA — Fans lined two rows of barricades outside Mizzou Arena on Wednesday, waiting amid strains of "Eye of the Tiger" to send the men's basketball team off to their first NCAA Tournament game in Omaha.
One sign rose above the crowd: "March to Zou Orleans."
The message conveyed the determination that Missouri senior Kim English confirmed when he addressed the group.
"We are on a mission to win these two (games) in Omaha," English said. "Then the next two in Phoenix, and then the last two in New Orleans. It all starts here."
Coach Frank Haith expressed his appreciation for the turnout of about 150 fans.
"This is beautiful," Haith said, "having everyone out here supporting us and sending us off."
The statements were short but sincere, and the Missouri fight song played in the background as the team buses arrived. The players boarded after walking through a spirit tunnel of fans, slapping the hands of those closest to the barricades.
"This team deserves to have some great things happen," Haith said. "They deserve to win because they are first-class individuals."
Missouri will play Virginia's Norfolk State at 3:40 p.m. Friday at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.