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2 seed OK for Mizzou

1. Sure, it helps to be a No. 1 seed but you probably knew that already. In the past 10 NCAA Tournaments, 15 of the 40 teams to make it to the Final Four were No. 1 seeds. That includes 2008, when all four No. 1s made it to the final Saturday. But if Missouri has to enter the 2012 NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed, it shouldn’t causeacid reflux. Nine No. 2 seeds have made it to the Final Four over the past 10 NCAA Tournaments. And while I don’t think Missouri will drop to a No. 3 seed the sky is not quite falling yet, OK? five No. 3 seeds haveadvanced tothe Final Four over the last 10 NCAA Tournaments. Last season, the Final Four didn’t have a No. 1 or a No. 2 in the field. But UConn, which won the championship, was a No. 3 seed.

No. 1 seeds get to the Final Four more often than the others for a simple reason: they’re the best teams. Sure, the NCAA Tournament selection committee may make a mistake here and there in handing out No. 1 seeds; not all teams deserve the honor. But by and large the No. 1 seeds have demonstrated that they are clearly superior to most teams, and that’s why they should advance to the Final Four. Kentucky won’t get to the Final Four this year because its a No. 1 seed; KY will get there because it’s the best team out there and highly capable of dominating every jerseys

The No. 1 seed is great for bragging rights, and it does help a team navigate through the NCAA tourney. But in a wide open kind ofseason, you have Kentucky that is clearly superior to everyone else, at least through this stretch. And then you have everyone else, all scrambling, all with a chance to win, all in a pool of about a dozen or so teams that seem capable of pulling off a long tournament run. Whether MU and those teams begin the journey as a No. 1, No. 2 or even No. 3 seed . well, it just isn’t as significant this season.

The key? Being one of the top three seeds. Over the past 10 NCAA Tournaments, halfthespots in the Final Four (20 of 40) have been claimed by top threes.

2. I don’t think Missouri will get well on Saturday at Kansas. Not exactly a provocative statement by me. TheJayhawks simply don’t give it up at Allen Fieldhouse in Big 12 play. 24, 1999. Since that time, KU is 12 0 against visiting Mizzou, winning by an average of 16 points per game. Yes, I think Frank Haith’s team has heart. Yes, I think MU will compete its Tiger tail off. Yes, I think if KU has a bad day, Missouri can steal one. But Kansas is virtually impossible to beat at Allen. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

3. Is Ricardo Ratliffe wearing down? I think it’s a legitimate question. In his last eight games Ratcliffe has averaged 9.5 points, making 60 percent of his shots. In the first 20 games, he shot 75 percent and averaged 15.1 points. Ratliffe has made only 14 of 30 shots in his last four games. If fatigue is an issue for Ratliffe, that’s a major concern for the Tigers. But I don’t know what to entirely make of those offensive numbers; after all Ratliffe has been doing agood job of snagging rebounds.

4. I may be giving K State coach Frank Martin too much credit here. (But the Wildcats beat the Tigers twice with very physical play. I’m not whining about the officiating, but it seems rather obvious that Kansas State was able to impose this rough style without any real fear of being held fully accountable by the refs. In the team’s two meetings this season, Missouri was actually called for more fouls (44) than Kansas State (37). Which is really funny for those of us that watched both games. So what does this have to do with Martin? Perhaps he pulled a Bill Belichick. Most refs simply aren’t going to call every foul on an extremely physical team and turn the game into a whistle concert.

5. Mizzou needs to play better defense, period.

Moving On .

So if I am reading thesituation correctly, Yadier Molina works for the agent and follows his agent’s orders? The agent doesn’t work for him? Interesting. It’s been a great run for Molina in STL, but at this point I wouldn’t get my hopes up that he’ll be staying here beyond 2012. This looks a lot like the path taken out of town by Albert Pujols. No surprise there.

The Cardinals need Molina. They will have money to spend on him. They can be generous in paying their All Star catcher. The Cardinals’long term payroll obligations are thin at the moment. But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals will overpay Molina. There’s no guarantee that any team will overpay Molina, but then again we said that with Pujols.

Moving On .

The Jamie Langenbrunner injury (fractured foot) really stinks. Will good luck ever smile at the Blues again? The injuries continue to dog this team, and it’s a continuation of the plague of last season. And it isn’t fair.

The 2010 2011 Bruins were No. 5 in the league in road winning percentage (.646); the Blues are 23rd (.442.) The Blues must prove thatthey can work as consistently hard as the champion Bruins did, especially on the road.