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Missouri’s path in the AdvoCare Invitational could include St. John’s, West Virginia

It appears the bracket is set. #BeatLongBeachState

Villanova v St John's Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It appears the bracket for the AdvoCare Invitational might be set.

The 2017 Advocare Invitational bracket is as follows, sources told FanRag Sports on Monday:

* West Virginia vs. Marist

* Nebraska vs. UCF

* St. John’s vs. Oregon State

* Missouri vs. Long Beach State

If true, Missouri would play Dan Monson’s Long Beach State (No. 225 in KenPom last year) in the first round, and assuming a win* the Tigers would play either St. John’s (No. 99) or Oregon State (No. 264) in the semis and, with a win, probably either WVU (No. 7), UCF (No. 68), or Nebraska (No. 107) in the finals.

From an RPI and strength-of-schedule perspective, the best path forward for Mizzou would be facing St. John’s and West Virginia. That would make the tournament a net gain for the Tigers. (Playing UCF would be fine as well, but the Tigers already play UCF. Variety, please.)

  • West Virginia won 28 games last season and reached the Sweet 16 before falling by just three points to eventual national runner-up Gonzaga. The Mountaineers will probably take a little bit of a step backwards in 2017-18 after not only losing seniors Tarik Phillip and Nathan Adrian, but also potentially losing emerging 6’8 star Esa Ahmad, who might be facing a lengthy suspension. Still, the Mountaineers have ranked in the KenPom top 25 for three straight years and seven of 10 under Bob Huggins. You know what they bring to the table at this point.
  • St. John’s, meanwhile, underwent a youth movement similar to Kim Anderson’s at Missouri a couple of years ago, but it appears to be bearing fruit a bit more. After going 8-24 and ranking 211th in 2015-16, the Red Storm improved to 14-19 and 99th this winter and spring. They beat six top-100 teams and return senior scorer Bashir Ahmed and a load of juniors- and sophomores-to-be. They were very good at the ball handling game last year but got erased on the glass for the most part; they could provide a really interesting test for a Mizzou backcourt that is still mostly unproven.

For obvious reasons, we’ve been talking about Mizzou’s upcoming basketball season quite a bit. Michael Porter Jr. even has former Mizzou stars excited, and Sports Illustrated says that the addition of Jontay Porter to the 2017-18 team (if it’s ever made official) would add to what is already going to be a really exciting roster. The Tigers will have already played a couple of pretty exciting games before the AdvoCare Invitational rolls around, but this tournament would test the Tigers pretty well.

* Man, it’s nice being able to “assume” a win over the No. 225 team again.