Ten Monday Morning Thoughts
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1. Missouri baseball came awfully, awfully close to punching its ticket to the NCAA Tournament.The Tigers took two out of three in Tennessee this weekend. The thing you didn't want to do in this series is jump in front. Mizzou led 5-1 on Friday night and lost 11-5. It trailed 7-0 on Sunday afternoon and won 10-8. Absolutely huge series win for the Tigers on the road. It put the Tigers 2.5 games up on the Vols for third in the East with six games left to play.Missouri is 33-16-1, 12-11-1 in the SEC with series against Vandy at home and Florida on the road to go. I think if Missouri goes 2-4 in those six games, they'll be an NCAA Tournament lock heading to Hoover. That's one hell of a job by Steve Bieser. There's nobody outside that locker room that saw this coming.
2. So that brings me to a thought I had this morning: Everybody hates Mack Rhoades...but are we sure he was terrible? Yes, he mishandled the hell out of November 2015. And it derailed his career here. People have told me that basically he came in with a plan and once that happened, it was a grenade on everything else he thought he wanted to do. I was hard on him for his leadership during that time and I won't back off that.
But he hired two coaches: Barry Odom and Steve Bieser. The verdict isn't in on Odom, but I've said again and again I think he was probably the best Missouri could do at the time and he has improved each year and could cement his future here with a good 2019 season. Bieser took a job that, frankly, I wouldn't have taken. There's a ceiling for baseball at Mizzou. But in year three, Bieser has already won more than 100 games and has the Tigers likely in the NCAA Tournament.
Mack's biggest mistake was holding on to Kim Anderson and punting on that decision. However, many fans will tell you that they're okay with how it worked out because it got Missouri Cuonzo Martin (I said the night Rick Barnes got fired at Texas that Rhoades should fire Anderson and hire Barnes and I still think that would have been the best move, but Martin has been good so far). Rhoades made mistakes here...but I'm not sure he was nearly as bad as most have made him out to be.
3. The softball regular season is complete. Mizzou walked off South Carolina on Friday and Saturday before losing the finale on Sunday. That left the Tigers 32-22 on the season, 12-12 in the SEC and the 7 seed in the league tournament.
I don't think Missouri needs to beat Auburn to play in the NCAA Tournament. The RPI was 33 entering the weekend and South Carolina was 19. So Mizzou's RPI should improve. The Tigers have an excellent shot at a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But they're in regardless of what happens this week.