The No. 25 Missouri Tigers put their 11 – 1 record on the line against the young, but extremely talented North Carolina State Wolfpack. Coincidentally, the Wolfpack had already defeated the Tennessee Volunteers, who were selected in preseason to finish ahead of Missouri in the SEC. However, the Tigers didn’t make the same mistakes that the Volunteers did, and defeated North Carolina State in a close game.
Missouri trailed for the majority of the game, but came back due to the offensive prowess of Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson late in the second half. Frank Haith’s team showed a toughness and determination not to lose that many didn’t think they would have coming into the season. This win will give the Tigers a lot of momentum going forward as they try and compete in the SEC and make it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
At the moment, Missouri is arguably the third best team in the SEC. They have a better record than both the No. 13 Florida Gators and No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats, but have played much weaker opposition. Their best win of the season came against the UCLA Bruins, but their lone loss came to arguably their second best opposition, the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Tigers have the types of numbers on paper that can lead to an NCAA Tournament berth, but don’t have the marquee wins necessary to be penciled in by the selection committee.
The win over North Carolina State is a huge first step in Missouri’s journey to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but much tougher games lie ahead for the Tigers as SEC play looms.