Last season, the Missouri Tigers continued their pattern of going into the NCAA tournament with high expectations and bowing out in the first round. Unlike the previous season where they crashed out after a devastating loss to No. 15 seeded Norfolk State, they lost to the No. 8 seeded Colorado Rams, who outplayed them for the majority of the game.
Once again this season, Missouri has an extremely-talented basketball team. Senior Earnest Ross is an outstanding player and, if he can remain consistent, Jabari Brown is one of the best scorers in the SEC. Tony Criswell has to step up his game in the scoring department and incoming freshman Johnathan Williams III must produce early. All in all, the Tigers have one of the most underrated rosters in the SEC, but will it be enough to live up to expectations?
Missouri fans don’t want to believe it, but this could be Frank Haith’s last season coaching the Tigers if he doesn’t produce in the postseason. He has never won an NCAA tournament game as head coach of Missouri, but he’s had Elite Eight-level talent every season. In an extremely difficult SEC, there is a definite possibility that the Tigers won’t be able to make the 2014 NCAA Tournament at all.
Additionally, the Tigers have very few opportunities to impress the NCAA selection committee with nonconference wins. They have a huge game against the No. 22 UCLA Bruins in early December, but all of the other non-conference games are against teams that most likely won’t make the NCAA tournament.
However, don’t count out Missouri just because of their weak non-conference schedule. The Tigers had huge expectations their first season in the SEC, but in their second year, their expectations are somewhat lower. Without the “SEC Title or Bust” mentality that they had last season, they will be a much more relaxed team and be able to focus on playing their style of basketball.
The results of this season will have huge implications for the future of Missouri basketball and will lead to the team playing better than many expect. The Tigers are a dangerous team in the SEC in the 2013-14 season that should not be underestimated in any matchup.