It's the first invite to the Big Dance for the Billikens since 2000, and caps off a remarkable turnaround for the program, which saw its record dip all the way to 12-19 in 2010-2011 before rebounding to a robust 25-7 this year. The Billikens also made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Atlantic 10 conference tournament before bowing out to the Muskateers of Xavier. The message was clear: SLU is back on track as a program.

The Memphis Tigers, in my ever-so-humble opinion, are under-seeded, and should really be more like a No. 5 or 6 than a No. 8. The Tigers aren't quite the physical powerhouse they were under John Calipari, but the Tigers are still a remarkably athletic bunch, capable of playing with any team in the nation. They have length, they have speed, and they can run you out of the gym if you aren't careful. Marjerus' bunch cannot hang with the Tigers from a pure talent standpoint. What they can do, however, is play tough defense and slow Memphis down. Getting into a transition battle with Memphis is only going to end in tears from the Billikens. If they can keep the game in the 50s, though, they just might have a chance.

Unfortunately, the Billikens also have the rather large handicap of a terrible mascot, one completely incapable of helping them out in any way. Let's face it: A Billiken is basically a bleached-out Grinch, and while I'm sure it's very helpful in certain situation to be able to grow your heart three sizes at the drop of a hat, it isn't going to beat a Tiger. Memphis has the athletes, and Tigers eat Grinches, er, Billikens, pretty much any time they see one. SLU is most likely destined for a one-and-done in this tournament. I hate to say it, but I think that's where they’re headed.

Even if the Billikens do somehow manage to beat Memphis, they'll be facing top seed Michigan State in the second round. That's not a draw SLU can win.

Final 4 Bound, All the Same
The Missouri Tigers just might have the best draw they could've hoped for, short of a No. 1 seed. They beat Baylor in the Big 12 conference final over the weekend, and I'm not sure they'll see another team that talented until they hit the third or fourth round of the tourney. The West Regional is very soft, and Mizzou's path through to at least the Elite Eight and a likely date with the Spartans looks to be imminently manageable.

The Tigers open up against Norfolk State out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Norfolk State is an historically black college in Virginia. Their mascot is the Spartans. They are making their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Congratulations to the students, faculty and alumni of Norfolk State. That being said, Mizzou should do to Norfolk State what No. 2 seeds typically do to No. 15 seeds.

Moving on, the Tigers will take on the winner of the Virginia/Florida game. If the Tigers are who we think they are, they should be able to handle either team.

Florida can score. They don't rebound particularly well, and they aren't the most efficient team offensively, but they can score in bunches all the same. They can also go four small and match up well against the Tigers' four-guard attack. Billy Donovan is an excellent coach, and the Gators could present a really tough draw for the Tigers in their second game. But I also think Florida is one of the most overrated teams in the nation.

The other possibility in the second round, Virginia, doesn't worry me nearly as much as the Gators do. The Cavaliers are a much better defensive team than Florida, and they'll do everything in their power to slow the Tigers down, grind it out and keep the game in the 60s. The only problem is Virginia can't score. They rank No. 274 in the nation in scoring, averaging just 63.1 points per game. Even with a stellar defensive performance, I'm not sure they could put enough points on the board to take down the Tigers. If Mizzou can make it to even 70 points, which they have failed to do just twice this season, the game could well be out of reach for the Cavaliers.

The first major challenge of the bracket for Mizzou looks to be in the third round when they could face Marquette, the West's No. 3 seed. The other strong possibility here is Murray State, the small conference powerhouse from Kentucky. Both teams feature outstanding guard play, and Marquette may be the one team in the nation more fond of playing transition basketball than Missouri. The Tigers and Golden Eagles play the same game, only Mizzou plays it better. It's a tough match-up, but Missouri is still the better team.

If Murray State is the opponent, well, do you remember the end of that one Zelda game, where Link had to fight his shadow as the last boss? It'll be kind of like that, only with basketball. Murray State is an extremely similar team to Missouri, with outstanding shooting guards, a four-out-one-in setup, an ability to knock down three-pointers all day long and a distinct lack of size down low.

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7 comments
Mizzousucksasusual
Mizzousucksasusual

ha! looks like you know nothing about basketball. mizzou didn't even win their conference and they got bounced by norfolk state. in the final four is laughable. you are a joke of a sports writer and maybe should check your bias next march. looks like the bills are the new st. louis team and with a better mascot. the tigers are only original in how many times they choke.

Greg Stewart
Greg Stewart

u poor mizzouloooooosers. you people think that u deserve a number one ranking, please they were a 3 seed at best......you had a great season but your team really did not have a tough enough schedule to be bragging about.......cant wait for next year when they go to the sec and get stomped in just about every sport there is for college sports......st louis news media just stop ur whinning and move on ........Go Big Blue Nation thats right Kentucky

who is a one and done?????????????????????

CCJG
CCJG

hahaha I guess they did not get so screwed after all. Nice job overlooking one of this year's Cinderellas...I do not care for the 4 out, 1 in offense style and this game proved it is not tournament ready!

Captain Crunch
Captain Crunch

Bounced out in the first round. And Missouri got screwed? Yes they did! Norfolk rawdogged the Tigers.

Missouri chokes again. LOL

Maximus
Maximus

Go Gators? O.k. Good Luck. Have fun watching Mizzou in the final four.

completebettyjo
completebettyjo

lol, dang, how did this get past the censors. This might not have the life of Lou Reed's Walk on the wildside, but it's right up there for things that shouldn't have made it to mass media.

Captain Crunch
Captain Crunch

Screwed??? Lucky to be a #2 after blowing a 19 point lead to KU. Missouri always chokes in the end. Remember the majic of Chase Daniels??? Blew it. Missouri fans cried then about having to play a conference championship games and losing. Now you will and still cry.

Misoouri gets bounced out by their new SEC rival, Florida. Go Gators.

1-888-Cat paws is lame.

 
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