Missouri Tigers: Still 2014 NCAA Tournament Bound, Despite Loss

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers were the only undefeated team left in the SEC before facing the Illinois Fighting Illini, but the Tigers couldn’t outscore their opponents, and let turnovers throw the game away. Jabari Brown, who was averaging nearly 20 points a game, only scored ten points and went 3 – 11 from the floor. It’s hard to win games when one of the top players in the SEC doesn’t have success.

The good news for the Tigers is that they led the Fighting Illini in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, rebounding, assists, blocks, and three point percentage. Unfortunately they trailed in the most important statistic in college basketball, turnovers. Missouri turned the ball over 14 times in a game that they dominated on the stat sheet. A loss like this is unlucky, but will be overcome as the season goes along.

Missouri is basically in the 2014 NCAA Tournament already. Their non-conference schedule has been rather weak, with their biggest win coming over the UCLA Bruins. However, already having 10 wins this early in the season is an extremely good sign for their tournament chances, especially with fellow SEC 2014 NCAA Tournament hopefuls the Tennessee Volunteers and the Alabama Crimson Tidestruggling.

The Tigers will be disappointed to lose their undefeated status, but what the non-conference schedule is really about is preparing a team for conference play and boosting their NCAA Tournament resume. Missouri’s 10 – 1 start to the 2013-14 college basketball season has done just that; be prepared for Missouri and Florida to be the two top teams in the SEC.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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