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Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84: Unconscious Spartans Eliminate Tigers

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We've said for a while now that if Mizzou had a fatal flaw, it was quite possibly not rebounding or depth issues, but perimeter defense. Sure enough, poor perimeter defense ended Mizzou's season today, quite a few rounds before everybody hoped. Norfolk State made some open looks early, got confident enough to make some well-covered looks in the middle of the game, and just kept right on making them late. Missouri came back from a six-point deficit in the final two minutes, but when Kyle O'Quinn put back an airballed jumper and got fouled with about 35 seconds left, Norfolk State had a lead they wouldn't relinquish. A few free throws, an odd inbounds play, and a missed buzzer-beater from Phil Pressey later, Mizzou's season was over.

Mizzou's offense was as good as normal for much of the game, but they just had no answer for a ridiculously confident Norfolk State squad. A crowd full of Kansas fans (in the arena for their game tonight) helped turn it into a veritable home game for NSU, and it carried them to a monumental upset. Marcus Denmon, Mike Dixon and Phil Pressey were all excellent on the offensive end -- 62 combined points, 12 3-pointers, double-digit assists -- but they made some mistakes late, their perimeter defense was as culpable as anybody else's, and ... let's just say that Kim English picked a bad time to have an absolutely horrendous game (two points on 1-for-7 shooting). And that's all it takes for your season to end in the Round of 64.

More later. For now ... yeah. I said this morning that the NCAA Tournament is cruel. We didn't need reaffirmation of that, but we got it. Time to sit around and sigh for a while.

(If you're just in the mood to throw things and vent, go here.)