The Missouri Tigers athletic program announced on Sunday evening that their mens basketball program would be accepting a bid to play in the 2014 National Invitational Trounament (NIT). Of course, this means they were not extended an invite to play in the NCAA Tourney, snapping a five year streak for the Tigers.
Missouri finds themselves as a No. 2 seed in this years NIT, hosting a 7th-seeded Davidson team in the first round. Missouri (22-11) struggled mightily in conference play, ultimately leading to their doom for this season. The Tigers are still lead by guards Jabari Brown (19.8 ppg) and Jordan Clarkson (17.7 ppg). They just simply didn’t do enough to impress the selection committee for the big dance, especially after getting trounced by no. 1 Florida in the SEC tournament. Mizzou finished with a 13-2 non-conference record but just a measly 9-9 conference record. It doesn’t help that they played poorly in a conference that is considered “weaker” when it comes to basketball.
The Davidson Wildcats (20-11) were the SoCon regular season champs, but lost in the finals of their conference tournament, giving them an automatic bid to the NIT. They too have struggled, but with games outside of conference play. The Wildcats went just 5-11 outside of the Southern Conference, but managed to win 15 in-a-row before losing in the finals of their conference tournament.
They’re lead De’Mon Brooks, who averages 18.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Brian Sullivan averages 13.1 points, Tyler Kolinoski is averaging 10.9 points, and Tom Droney is averaging 10.3 points per game. Deadly combination of four players that can all score in double figures, as they seem to average every time they take the floor. As a team, Davidson averages 78.6 points per game, while shooting right around 48%. Explains why they were able to make a 15 game winning streak come to life.
Missouri is just 1-7 all time in the NIT, and they’re looking to turn that around. Frank Haith needs to rally his group together and try to win this thing if he wants to silence his critics. It could be a solid accomplishment for a talented group that has gone through a disappointing season. The talks have already begun that Frank Haith should be fired and isn’t the right guy for Missouri moving forward, despite taking the Tigers to back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids, and three consecutive seasons of 20 plus wins.
The Tigers will certainly have their hands full, as they try to fight off a talented and hot Davidson team that is coming off their first loss in almost two months. You don’t think Davidson is going to play with a chip on their shoulder in this one? Mizzou, however, is susceptible to huge let downs in games they should be up for. Just go back and watch the Tennessee game if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Maybe the Tigers will show up for this tournament, and maybe they’ll make a run for the NIT championship game which is played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Or maybe they’ll be that team that allows 69.5 ppg defensively and allows teams to shoot 41.4% from the field. I’m holding out hope for the the first one.
The game starts tonight at 8 PM, on ESPN 2.