Missouri might only be eight games into its season — and lacking its best player — but it appears the Tigers are in as good of a spot as they can be to make the NCAA Tournament in March.
Missouri’s win against Central Florida on Thursday did a lot to boost the Tigers’ resume — a road win against a team that could be ranked this year. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 3 in the NCAA’s RPI rankings, behind Duke and Texas A&M, and hold the top ranking in strength of schedule. The Tigers’ two losses are to Utah and West Virginia, which should improve going into conference play once last season’s leading scorer Esa Ahmad returns from a suspension.
In ESPN’s latest bracketology by Joe Lunardi, Missouri is in the Big Dance despite the absence of Michael Porter Jr., who is likely out for the season after undergoing back surgery. The Tigers are projected as a No. 11 seed playing Texas Tech in the first round in Wichita.
Lunardi’s latest projection has seven teams from the Southeastern Conference, including Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas, as well as regulars Kentucky and Florida. With the conference appearing to be poised for a big year, Missouri’s conference schedule should provide the program with more help on Selection Sunday.
Missouri enters Tuesday’s 8 p.m. game against Miami, Ohio, at 6-2. The Tigers’ next chance to boost their resume is against Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 19. Lunardi currently has the Lumberjacks in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 16 seed.