Florida State’s the 9-seed, while Missouri’s the 8-seed; the winner will most likely face No. 1 seed Xavier.
Mizzou finished 10-8 in the SEC and were bounced from their conference tourney in the first round by Georgia. Their only common opponent with FSU was the Florida Gators, who beat the Tigers in Columbia by a bucket.
There’s another connection, though, as Phil Cofer originally committed to Cuonzo Martin when he was the Tennessee head coach. However, after Martin bailed for California, Cofer was released and signed with Florida State.
Missouri plays at one of the slowest paces in the nation, at 298th in tempo. They live and die by the 3-pointer. There are only two teams out of 351 Division I programs who score less from inside the arc than the Tigers.
They have two of the best 3-point shooters in the nation in seniors Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett. Robertson made 99 3s on the year, knocking them down at a 44% clip. Barnett shot 42% and made 82 3s.
The wildcard is 5* phenom Michael Porter Jr, the No. 2 overall player in last year’s class. He missed all but two games (season opener and SEC Tournament) with an injury, and is available for the tourney.
Porter Jr. was originally committed to play at Washington. But the Huskies fired Lorenzo Romar, so Martin swooped in and hired former UW assistant Michael Porter Sr. Then, his two 5* sons committed to Missouri. The other son (6-11 freshman Jontay Porter), averages 10.1 ppg for the Tigers.
Their big weakness on offense is ball security. They’re 310th in turnover%. And they compound that by being 306th at forcing turnovers on defense.
Defensively, at least in SEC play, they were exceptional in two areas where FSU is strongest: they were 2nd in DRB% and permitted the 2nd fewest free throws.
Mizzou opened as a 1-point favorite.