Ten Thoughts for Monday Morning
1) The regular season is over for Missouri basketball and what do we make of it? That's obviously up to everyone to decide for himself or herself. For me, it's a season that isn't as good as it once looked, but overall is a success. Missouri is in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in eight years. Where the program was entering this year (and really for the near future) any season in which the Tigers make the NCAA Tournament is a solid season. I understand people who think "But they were ranked 10th in the country and we were talking about a 2 or a 3 seed and they lost five of the last seven games, including three to teams that aren't going to be in the NCAA Tournament." Right, like I said, it's not as good as it once looked right now. But you don't just throw away the first 16 games. They still count.
At the start of the season, I said I thought the ceiling for this team was about a 6 seed. And that's approximately where they're going to end up. So while it could have been better--and looked for a while like it would be better--I can't find too much fault with it. Think about it this way: If Missouri had lost to Oregon and Illinois in the non-con (most of us thought it would) and traded that for beating Georgia and Ole Miss, the record is exactly the same. The conference standing would be different (Missouri would be 10-6 and the 4 seed in that case), but the season would actually be a little worse. The first 2/3 of the season don't just go away because Missouri struggled down the stretch. You have to look at the entire thing. The Selection Committee will. Fans should too.
If we're going letter grade, I'll give this season a solid B to B+ as of today. That could go up or down a letter grade based on what happens over the next two to three weeks.
2) As of right now, Missouri is in line for a 6 or a 7 seed. If they lose to Georgia on Thursday night in Nashville, a 7 is probably the ceiling. If they beat Georgia and follow it up with a win over Arkansas, they'll be a 6. To get beyond that, you're going to have to be playing in the championship game, I think. And honestly, that's not something I think would be all that good for Missouri. Conference tournaments are fun. But for a team that's already in the NCAA Tournament no matter what, they're fairly inconsequential. I think the Georgia game is important. You want to beat a team you're better than. After that, I don't think losing to Arkansas would be the worst thing that could happen, especially if it's a close, competitive loss. The entire goal of this tournament for Missouri needs to be get in and get out without losing any players (or your chance to play in the NCAA Tournament) to injury or COVID. That's it. You'd rather lose to Georgia and go in as an 8 seed than win three games and be a 5/6, but have a player get hurt or fall victim to contact tracing.
As I posted this morning, Bracket Matrix shows Missouri in the tournament on all 103 brackets. On 99 of those 103, Missouri is somewhere between a 5 and an 8. Here's how it breaks down:
5 seed: 17
6 seed: 28
7 seed: 39
8 seed: 16
My counting is off by one somewhere here because those numbers add up to 104 and Bracket Matrix says there are 103 brackets. I don't really want to count again to see which of those numbers is off by one because it doesn't really matter. The consensus is that Missouri is a 6 or a 7 with higher and lower almost exactly as likely. The point is, Mizzou is safely in and almost certainly going to be seeded to win its first round game.
3) But I know that nobody goes into a tournament thinking, let's just win one and go home, so let's take a look at the SEC Tournament bracket
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