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Mizzou Madness?

Tigers hope to make Tourney for second-straight year.

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Mizzou Madness?

Mizzou guard Jordan Geist defends Daryl Macon of Arkansas in their matchup from last year.

Mizzou guard Jordan Geist defends Daryl Macon of Arkansas in their matchup from last year.

David J. Beach (Creative Commons)

Mizzou guard Jordan Geist defends Daryl Macon of Arkansas in their matchup from last year.

David J. Beach (Creative Commons)

David J. Beach (Creative Commons)

Mizzou guard Jordan Geist defends Daryl Macon of Arkansas in their matchup from last year.

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Last year the Missouri men’s basketball team made it to March Madness for the first time in five years. Many fans lost hope quickly after their star recruit, Michael Porter Jr., was injured and not expected to come back. In his place, seniors Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett, with help from Jontay Porter, maintained momentum and surged into the tournament as an 8 seed until being knocked out by Florida State’s overwhelming guards. This year they’re 10-6, 1-3 in the SEC. Tonight they have an important matchup with an away game against Arkansas.

Losing Jontay Porter to an ACL injury initially made the Tigers’ chance at the tournament look slim, but new players have stepped up and performed very well. Mason Lange, sophomore basketball player, says Jontay’s missing presence is “greatly affecting the team.”

“With Jontay, Mizzou is an elite team. Missing him this year will definitely make it harder for them to make the tournament, but it can be done,” Lange said.

Nevertheless, they were plowing through their schedule until they faced their biggest challenge this year; Number 3 (and now number 1) ranked Tennessee. The team couldn’t hang on after the first half of high-intensity offense, but sophomore Dane Keller said he isn’t worried about the tough loss.

“Tennessee is a great team, with many veterans leading them,” Keller said. “We only stayed in the game through one half because of Jordan Geist’s lights out shooting.”

“Geist is the greatest player to set foot on the Missouri floor, it’s hard not to like him,” said Lange.

They say that this loss won’t affect their tournament resume, and as long as Geist continues to shoot the ball, they will have a chance at coming back to the Big Dance. Geist leads the team in points (13.7), steals (1.2), and assists (3.2) per game. Sophomores Jeremiah Tilmon and Mark Smith follow Geist, helping to create a dynamic trio when all three are on the court.

“With Geist running the team, I don’t see how we won’t have 20 wins,” said Keller.

Biology teacher Brad Zerman, a fan and alumnus of Missouri, said he recently learned that Mizzou had lost the past four first-round tournament games and doesn’t  seem very optimistic of their tournament chances this year.

“Mizzou underperforming is something that all fans dread and are kind of used to, so I would be very worried they would lose round one even if they made the tournament,” Zerman said.

So far their season seems it could yield positive results, but Mizzou fans are excited that a star high schooler has a high interest in Missouri. Joshua Christopher of Lakewood, California, a top ten player in the country, has high interest in Mizzou. He’s averaging 24.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, hoping to guide his school to a conference title for the third straight season.  

“With Christopher alongside Smith and Tilmon, Mizzou will be a real threat for contending for a National Championship in a few years,” Lange said.

But in contrast to the men’s team being on the bubble, the women’s team is a top team in the NCAA and is looking to make it far in the tournament this year. They’ve beat many good teams already and are led by senior guard Sophie Cunningham.

Cunningham has led the team to three NCAA appearances in her first four years, and looks to make it four times this year. She’s averaging 15.9 points per game and is shooting almost 40% from beyond the arc.

“Sophie is extremely motivated. She always is the one rushing up and down the court during games, not giving into the pain.” Keller said.

The team has suffered some close losses lately, but they hope to maintain momentum and surge headfirst into the tournament.

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Mizzou Madness?