Missouri State leaves no doubt that it is a championship team

You may have thought of that after the Braggin Rights explosion in Illinois. Strengthen your faith after Kentucky is kicked out of Mizzou Arena. But Saturday was the day we got our definitive answer: Missouri returns to the NCAA basketball tournament.

Whether and when it happened D’Moi Hodge Small run off by Iowa with three behind the backboard, or when DeAndre Goulston Follow it up with a four-point game, or one of them Kobe Brown12 smashing rebounds or another, Missouri showed Saturday that it’s one of 68 teams that will get a chance to chase a banner over three weeks in March and April.

The Tigers battered Iowa State 78-61 on Saturday, donning uniforms in front of a rebound selling crowd against a throwback opponent. The only thing left is Team Tiger who reminded you of the glory days men loved John Sundvold And Derek Kievos And Anthony Beller And Melvin Booker They wore a gold M and small “Isori” on their white jerseys.

This team appeared. He appeared most of the season.

Iowa State—the No. 12 team in the country and the undisputed best conference leader in college basketball—has a 17-15 lead with 11 minutes left in the first half. Twenty-three seconds later, Hodge splashed a three-pointer. Missouri will never fall behind again.

“We led 38 minutes, 31 seconds,” the team coach said Dennis Gates He said. They drove for 44 seconds.

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Missouri almost dominated Iowa from the opening tip (Megan Fox)

All told, the Tigers hit 14 triples, made 14 assists on 26 field goals and scored 78 points—more than the Hurricanes had given up in regulation to anyone in their previous 19 games. Iowa State came eighth in modified defensive efficiency in Kienbaum and Mizzou ripped the Clones apart with 60% shooting and 64 points in the first 28 minutes of the game.

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In the final 12 minutes, Mizzou’s shooting slowed to the point where he made this a minor explosion rather than an absolute humiliation. But the end result was Missouri’s fourth win over a ranked team and a defeat of a 17-point team Dennis Gates He said 24 hours ago that he thought he could play the number one seed in the big dance.

Tigers will not be. But they will be in the field. There is no doubt about that at this time.

After Saturday, Mizzou played six of the eight strongest opponents. The Tigers have played six games against five teams that are ranked 33rd in the NET standings. Only Auburn and Tennessee fit that bill over the last ten games of the regular season. Mizzou has three matches left against teams with a lower KenPom rank than any team he has played since December 4. She has five home games and opportunities on the road at LSU, Georgia and Mississippi State.

So yeah, I know, one game at a time and not looking forward and all that. This is all well and good for the Gates and their players. But what will hurt me when I look forward? I haven’t caught a shot or stolen this season. My position will not magically affect the team through cyberspace.

What I see is an NCAA Championship team.

“Having a Quadruple 1 win in January is very important,” Gates said. “I think this is a two seeded team, one possible. For us, achieving that Quadruple 1 victory is very important not only on this particular Sunday, but just for us and our growth, to know who we are.”

Who are now very good. The coach on the other bench Saturday thinks it’s not who he will be by the time the field is announced.

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“They’re having a great year and they’ll just keep getting better,” Iowa State’s head coach said. TJ Otzelberger He said.

Hodge made five three-pointers and was one of five Tigers in twos

Hodge made five three-pointers and was one of five Tigers in double figures (Megan Fox)

For this program and where he’s come from—12 wins a year ago and just two postseason appearances in the last nine seasons—getting there would be a hell of a step. Nobody expected that before the season.

But it seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. The next step is to improve enough over the next six weeks that the Tigers can do some damage once they’re there. By the time the Tigers play the NCAA Championship game, it will have been at least 4,743 days since Missouri got a chance to play a rematch in the NCAA Tournament.

The tournament is a crapshoot. But Missouri has already proven that it can beat the teams it will play in. Iowa will be there. So is Illinois. Likely Kentucky and Arkansas. Mizzou has knocked them all out this season, three of them in dominant style.

Gates has spoken for the long term since taking office last March. Yes, he wants to win every day. But he ignored the rating, saying that the only thing that matters will come out after the season. He’s passed over praising his team effusively after their best games this year, saying he’ll take stock of the performance when the season is over. He did it again on Saturday.

“I don’t think we played well to be honest with you,” Gates said to a round of chuckles from the room. “Guys laugh. I’m serious. I have different expectations of myself, our staff and our players. It’s not based on the result. It’s the quality.”

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“We have to do it in the short term, and we have to do it in the long term.”

short term happens. Gates noted that the Tigers referred to the tournament and his name in conference conversation and national coach of the year honors. In the long run, Gates doesn’t just mean March Madness 2023. But this is the next step. And it’s one that Missouri will take. There is not much doubt at all. If you weren’t sure, they proved it on Saturday afternoon.

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