Mizzou Bungles Big Dance Bid; SLU's Cinderella Season Still Alive

Losing to Nebraska is easy when you shoot like this - Image Via
Losing to Nebraska is easy when you shoot like this
If the SLU Billikens needed a lesson on how not to lock-up an NCAA tournament bid on the eve of their showdown with Rhode Island in the A-10 tournament, Mizzou was happy to oblige.

The Tigers, who finished fifth in the Big 12 in the regular season, got stomped in the first round of the conference tournament last night, losing 75-60 to lowly Nebraska. The loss puts the Tigers -- who were once all but guaranteed an at-large bid to the big dance -- back on the proverbial bubble.

SLU, meanwhile, must win tomorrow night against Rhode Island if they have any hope of donning glass slippers when the selection committee announces the 65-team tournament field on Sunday.

Mizzou, the defending Big 12 tournament champions, shot themselves in the foot big time last night. The Cornhuskers had just two conference victories headed into the match-up. It was just the second time in conference tournament history that a 12 seed defeated a 5 seed.

The AP aptly described the malaise that led to the Tigers downfall, writing that they were "outrebounded, outshot and outhustled the team that had easily beaten them twice this year." It is the third loss in the last four games for MIzzou and the team is now 1-3 since losing forward Justin Safford to a knee injury.

If you missed the game and are a masochist, ESPN is streaming the replay online at ESPN360.com.

The Bills, meanwhile, play tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in Atlantic City. In Rhode Island, they face a team that is slumping worse than MU. The Rams have lost five of their last seven -- including one to Saint Louis -- heading into the A-10 tourney. And yet many prognosticators are picking them for an at-large bid over the young but impressive Billiken squad.

That's not to say, however, that Rick Majerus and co. haven't received any shine from college hoops' big time pundits. Seth Davis gave Majerus a shout-out in his Sports Illustrated column this week, ESPN's Pat Forde picked them as a Dark Horse to win the A-10 (and gave props to one of the best pubs in town, The Bleeding Deacon, in the process), and bracketologist Joe Lunardi has had them (and Rhode Island) among the last eight teams out of the 65-team field.

The A-10 is just about guaranteed three teams in the Dance and if SLU wins tomorrow they should leapfrog Rhode Island and be a part of that trinity. Of course, that means one less at-large bid for a struggling power conference team. Wonder who that could be?
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