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Tigers get low seeding, prime placement in NCAA Tournament

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Tigers get lower seeding, but premium placement

Things have been up-and-down for Robin Pingeton’s Tigers this year. The Tigers dropped several games to below-average teams in both non-con and conference play and saw several of their star players battle slumps throughout the season.

But things are about as good as can be right now. The Tigers played deep into the SEC Tournament, are getting stellar contributions from Cheryl Miller Award finalist Sophie Cunningham and, for the fourth time in as many years, will be dancing in the NCAA Tournament.

Depending on how you look at things, then, Monday’s tournament news could be seen as glass half-full or half-empty. The Tigers were seeded No. 7 in the Greensboro region — two seeds lower than bracketologists had pegged them — but they did get prime placement: right in Head Coach Robin Pingeton’s backyard.

Missouri’s first-round game will be in Iowa City, Iowa. It’s a short drive from Pingeton’s home town of Atkins, Iowa and from her alma mater St. Ambrose. Pingeton was an assistant coach at Drake in 1990. Two years prior, she took her first head coaching job at St. Ambrose.

Even though the No. 7 seed was lower than expected, Iowa City was one of the host sites the Tigers preferred. It’s about a four-hour drive from Columbia to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and that will allow Missouri fans easy access to supporting the Tigers.

Like Missouri, Drake is a high-scoring, three-point-shooting team. They also aren’t used to losing, having only done so twice in the past three months. There’s also a very fresh Mizzou connection; freshman Grace Berg transferred to Drake this year after losing her spot in the Tiger rotation earlier this year. Due to NCAA rules, she won’t be eligible for Friday’s game.

Despite the tough draw — even a win means the Tigers would have to play No. 2 Iowa in the second round — the Tigers are feeling optimistic about their chances.

“We had a rough start to the season,” junior Jordan Rountree said. “We always kept telling each other, at least we haven’t peaked yet, we’re going to peak at the right time. Last season we peaked at the wrong time and we were in the decline at the worst time of the season.”

The Tigers are focused, though, especially after last year’s first-round upset at the hands of Florida Gulf Coast. With three senior contributors getting their last shot at March glory, everyone has their eyes on the next game ahead and not the ones that could follow.

“That’s a feeling you don’t forget,” senior forward Cierra Porter said. “It was very frustrating and not something we want to relive. Now that it’s tournament time again, you think back to that feeling and do everything in our power to not go through that again.”

We’ve seen this year that the Tigers can beat anyone, anywhere — they’ve already proven they can take down No. 1 seed Mississippi State in their own house. But with several tough losses also on their resume, the Tigers variety of outcomes over the next few weeks is wide-ranging. Let’s hope things last longer than they did last year.

Yesterday at Rock M

More Links:

  • Gabe DeArmond continued PowerMizzou’s Q&A series with football newcomers by talking with wide receiver CJ Boone.
  • Dave Matter has a dispatch from spring football at the midway point, and it’s all about the shiny new quarterback!
  • It’s onward and upward for new Mizzou alumnus Jordan Geist, who will take his chances at an NBA career.

If the last three years are any indicator, maybe we shouldn’t count him out?