Bubble Watch: Missouri Faces Pivotal Regular Season Finale
The Missouri Tigers entered their first season in the SEC with high hopes, and they will head into Saturday’s regular season finale against Tennessee looking for their fourth straight win. The Tigers currently have a 22-8 record (11-6 in-conference), so heading into the conference tournament on a high note is a must if they hope to get off the dreaded tournament bubble.
Let’s take a closer look at Missouri’s tournament resume.
Missouri has two wins over team that were ranked in the top-10 in the country at the time they played them (Florida, Illinois), and the Gators were ranked fifth in the country when the Tigers beat them on Feb. 19. The Tigers have also avoided any bad losses to lower-tier SEC teams, though a close call did come against South Carolina on Jan. 22 with a 71-65 victory.
The Tigers currently rank 31st in RPI, with a 9-8 record against the top 100 in that metric, which should be just good enough for them to make the NCAA Tournament right now. But a loss to Tennessee on Saturday has a chance to be damaging, since the Volunteers currently sit 56th in RPI and their win Wednesday night over Auburn will not do much to bolster that ranking.
A one-and-done showing in the SEC Tournament would also hurt Missouri, though right now I think they have as good a chance as any team in the conference to win the tournament title and make any bubble talk a moot point.
I think the Tigers are playing from this point on to bolster their NCAA Tournament seed, and a win on Saturday along with a deep conference tournament run could force the selection committee to hold them in high regard.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.