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Columbia Missourian

Missouri men's basketball team tries not to think about tournament

By Justin Yang
February 26, 2013 | 5:45 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The NCAA men's basketball tournament is just a few weeks away. It's a time where the nation's better programs start scrambling to get quality wins and start talking about jockeying for better seeds.

Missouri coach Frank Haith said his players and staff try their best not to talk about the postseason too much.

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"I don't pay attention to that stuff," Haith said Monday. "As a matter of fact, I don't want our guys talking about it. We don't do that. We have to worry about taking care of our business."

For Missouri, business is focusing on finding a way to win the final four games on its schedule.

Missouri plays South Carolina on Thursday in Columbia, S.C., and then returns to Mizzou Arena to play LSU on Saturday. The Tigers finish the season off against Arkansas at home and then against Tennessee on the road in Knoxville, Tenn.

Missouri guard Keion Bell said thinking too far ahead is dangerous for the team.

"It's a long season," Bell said. "If you look down the line, that's how the losses start piling up."

Although Haith tries not to think too much about the tournament ahead, he is aware of where Missouri stands going into the postseason.

Missouri is ranked 39th in the country in the Ratings Percentage Index according to ESPN, a statistic used by the NCAA to determine at-large teams and seeds for the NCAA tournament.

RPI rankings measure the strength of a team's schedule and how a team performs in that schedule.

Missouri is ranked second in the Southeastern Conference in terms of RPI, only behind No. 7 Florida.

"We're still in good position as far as I know," Haith said. "We've had some good wins … we just have to finish strong."

For now, Missouri is getting ready to face a very physical South Carolina team coached by Frank Martin. The Tigers won the last game 71-65 on Jan. 22 at Mizzou Arena, coming back from a 13-point deficit.