COLUMBIA, Mo. — If the Missouri men's basketball team is going to make its first March Madness appearance since the 2017-18 season, it will do so in the state of Indiana. And there's a chance the Tigers could go to head coach Cuonzo Martin's old stomping grounds.
Missouri (7-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) dropped one spot to No. 13 in both the AP and Coaches polls released Monday after a 20-point loss to Tennessee at home and a 13-point road win against previously-undefeated Arkansas. The Tigers, ranked as high as No. 9 on three ballots and unranked on one ballot, were also No. 10 in the first edition of the NCAA's NET Rankings, a tool used to determine seeding in the NCAA Tournament, in line for a top-4 seed.
Tennessee fell two spots to No. 9 after a home loss to unranked Alabama. Illinois (8-3) climbed three spots to No. 12, and Oregon (8-1) rose four spots to No. 18. Tennessee and Missouri were the only SEC teams ranked for the fourth straight poll, dating back to Dec. 14. Florida was the first team out of the Jan. 4 poll receiving 110 poll points, just behind No. 25 Florida State's 120 points.
The NCAA announced Monday it was officially planning on holding this year's men's tournament entirely in the state of Indiana, and mostly within the city of Indianapolis, after last year's men's and women's tournaments were some of the first major sporting events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All games will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts), Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis Pacers), Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler University) and Indiana Farmers Coliseum (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) in Indianapolis, Mackey Arena (Purdue University) in West Lafayette and Assembly Hall (Indiana University) in Bloomington.
Martin played home games at Mackey Arena while a member of the Purdue men's basketball team from 1991-95.
The Indiana Convention Center will house multiple practice courts, and Lucas Oil Stadium will host two playing courts, with one event at a time taking place.
CBS and its traditional broadcast affiliates will continue to televise games this year. Selection Sunday is scheduled for March 14, and after the first 64 games are played, with dates still to be determined, the Final Four will be held April 3 and 5.
According to a release from the NCAA, the Marion County Health Department approved plans for the event, which include a partnership between the NCAA and the county to administer COVID-19 tests to players, coaches and staff and officials. The NCAA currently plans for a limited number of coaches and players' family members to attend games, with no determination made yet on fan attendance.
The Tigers play at 8 p.m. today at Mississippi State (6-4, 1-1 SEC). The Bulldogs lost on a neutral court to Liberty 84-73, a team Missouri beat at home 69-60, opened SEC play with a 83-73 win against Georgia on the road and lost Saturday at home to Kentucky, 78-73 in two overtimes.
Mississippi State is led by a trio of sophomores: point guard Iverson Molinar (18.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists per game), shooting guard D.J. Stewart Jr. (18.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists per game) and forward Tolu Smith (12.5 points, 8.9 rebounds per game). Molinar is a 50 percent 3-point shooter this season and is 5-of-9 from beyond the arc in conference games, and Stewart is 20-of-45 (44 percent) from deep, but has shot 3-of-12 in SEC games.
Redshirt senior wing Jalen Johnson, who started his career at Saint Louis, transferred to Louisiana and then to the Bulldogs, is a solid spot-up shooter on the wing, hitting on 16-of-40 3-point attempts this year.
With Smith and centers Abdul Ado and Quinten Post, Mississippi State is again a very good offensive rebounding team, collecting nearly 40 percent of their own missed shots.