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Mizzou moves up in AP, Coach’s polls ahead of NCAA Tournament

Mizzou Links for March 14, 2023.

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Any progress is good progress!

It took a while for Mizzou to get back to the Top 25 after their midseason swoon. Now they’re doing their best to slowly climb the ranks.

Ahead of Thursday’s first-round match up with Utah State in Sacramento, the Associated Press and Coach’s polls dropped on Monday. In each, Mizzou improved on their previous standing, moving to No. 23 in the AP and No. 24 (from an unranked position) in the USA Today Coach’s Poll.

Pat Forde at Sports Illustrated, however, cares to disagree. In his ranking of the 68 NCAA Tournament squads, Mizzou comes in 26th, eight spots ahead of their first-round opponent.

Their 24 wins in Year 1 under coach Dennis Gates doubles last year’s total, and Mizzou’s fast-paced, fearless playing style has been welcomed by a fan base that had become a bit apathetic. Will it translate to the tournament, where Missouri hasn’t won a game since 2010? That will largely depend on the Tigers’ ability to guard and grab defensive rebounds, two weak areas all season. Their game against Utah State could be the highest-scoring first-round game of the tourney.

And yes, it could be said that Mizzou doesn’t have a ton of NCAA Tournament experience. Gates has plenty as a coach and Kobe Brown played in Mizzou’s first round match up against Oklahoma two years ago. But Jaden Lewis is quick to point out that there’s still plenty of high pressure postseason experience on this roster.

“I was fortunate enough to coach in an Elite Eight game,” Gates said. “I’ll use my experiences. Our staff will use their experiences. But as players, they’ve won championships before in their life in different areas, and we have to all use those experiences moving forward. They prepare for what I’ve told them to prepare for, and that’s been April 1 and April 3 (NCAA Tournament semifinals and final) from Day 1.”

No matter what, the result shouldn’t fully dictate the success of Gates’ first season in Columbia. He’s one of just seven coaches in the first year of their new jobs to head to the tournament. (Weird for Miller to be included here as he’s been at Xavier before)

Yesterday at Rock M

More Links:

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