By Lucas Owens
Sunday evening, when the selection committee unveiled their rankings, the Mizzou Tigers men’s basketball team found themselves in a far different place from where they were just a few nights ago when they lost against Arkansas in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. The Tigers watched Selection Sunday from the Indianapolis Speedway, home of the Indy 500, in a suite, alongside many other teams that had made their way to Indiana early. When the Tigers hear their names called, they were one of 37 at large teams, but one that was far below where they could have been before the Tigers lost 3-6 down the stretch: The Tigers would enter as a 9 seed in the West Region.
“Tournament time is a fresh start for your team,” coach Cuonzo Martin said after learning of the Tigers’ seed. Senior Forward Jeremiah Tilmon added “Me personally, I just wanted to make it.”
Mizzou enters the NCAA Tournament facing the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Time and location are still unknown, but one thing is: the tough test that will face them in the second round if they were to win. Put in the west region, Mizzou would face the winner of Gonzaga v Norfolk St/Appalachian St in the second round if they get past the Sooners. The Gonzaga Bulldogs, out of the West Coast Conference, had an undefeated regular season and conference tournament, and are the number one overall seed in March Madness.
Not to look too far ahead, Mizzou will first have to face Oklahoma. The Sooner, who wend 15-10 overall and 9-8 in conference, have not fared better than Mizzou lately, as they lost 5 of their last 6, including a loss against Kansas Thursday that knocked them out of the tournament. Mizzou did not face Oklahoma too long ago, as the Sooners beat the Tigers last year in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo. by a score of 77-66.
“It’s another revenge game for us,” said Tilmon. Coach Martin also added that Oklahoma “is a very talented team…they beat us last year in Kansas City so I’m looking forward to it.”
However, much like the Tigers, Oklahoma has a few very good wins on their resume, beating Alabama at the end of January and West Virginia earlier in that month. The one common opponent between the two is TCU, who both teams beat. It took Mizzou overtime to beat the Horned Frogs during the SEC/Big 12 challenge, but Oklahoma wiped the floor with them in their last appearance, winning 82-46.
Both the Tigers and Sooners still await what time and place they will play each other on Saturday, but when they do it will be a very intriguing matchup between two teams who have great potential despite their struggles as of late.
Edited by Emma Moloney