For Missouri basketball, “March Madness” is just around the corner. The Tigers aren’t among the teams with top records, but 18 wins is far from shabby.
For all of the hype that came with the country’s No. 2 overall recruit joining the ranks at Missouri, the Tigers have done well for themselves without the aid of Michael Porter, Jr.
The question that all have asked at least once this season, has yet to be answered: When will MPJ return to the court for Mizzou? The responses are mixed: Soon, next year, and never.
In theory, Michael Porter, Jr.’s presence may have pushed Missouri to win a few of the close games. At the same time, it may have caused the Tigers to lose a few more than it has, because the team may have relied on MPJ more than finding its true identity.
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An ideal situation would have been for Michael Porter, Jr. to return mid-to-late season for the Tigers, adding a talented piece to the puzzle, rather than a team savior.
Yet, even without MPJ, here they are on the precipice of NCAA tournament seeding and a possible berth among the “field of 68.” The Tigers’ path to a possible tournament berth will not have come without its share of twists and turns, but Mizzou has seemingly weathered the storm.
The Tigers were met with their share of adversity, from ill-times injuries, to transfers and suspensions. Probably the biggest hurdle the Tigers have jumped is that of sheer will. Mizzou had every reason to fall to self-doubt and had a bevy of excuses to back-up a bad season (see above), including a new coach.
Missouri is currently the sixth seed in the SEC tournament. If the Tigers play well in their last four regular season games and collect at least a few more wins in the tournament, it could spell seeding in the NCAA tourney, or an NIT invitation, at worst.