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March 14, 2010

Shuffling off to Buffalo

The Missouri Tigers had to wait a while, but they did hear their name called, but a roar went up at Mizzou Arena when the Tigers got confirmation they were dancing. Missouri is the ten seed in the East Region and will face 7th-seeded Clemson in the first round.

"You always have the nerves, kind of like a game, until you see your name come across that screen," head coach Mike Anderson said. "But I feel we did well this year...I think we did enough to have an opportunity to play in the tournament."

Clemson finished the season 21-and-10, including 9-and-7 in the ACC regular season. The Tigers lost their first ACC tournament game to North Carolina State. Common opponents for Clemson and Missouri were Illinois and Texas A&M. Missouri beat the Illini, but lost to the Aggies. Clemson lost to both teams, by two to Illinois and ten to A&M.

Should Missouri get past that game, a matchup with second-seeded West Virginia and Bob Huggins is likely on Sunday. The second-seeded Mountaineers play No. 15 Morgan State in the first round Friday. Not that the Tigers were acknowledging round two.

"It's all Clemson," Laurence Bowers said. "We can't overlook nothing. We figured that out when we played Nebraska. I think we kind of overlooked that game because we beat Nebraska both times easily. The first game is the most important. If you don't win that, you can't go nowhere. It's over."

"I think we were kind of in a fog when we played Nebraska," Anderson said. "I think (Friday) we'll see the team we have seen all year long."

Bowers is battling a ligament injury in his left wrist, which he had in a heavy brace on Sunday, but will play on Friday. Justin Safford has missed the last four-and-a-half games with a torn ACL and seems unlikely to return.

"He's nowhere near ready to do anything," Anderson said. "The longer we can prolong the season, the better chance it gives Justin to come back I guess."

That chance to prolong the year begins on Friday against Oliver Purnell's Tigers. Game time has been set for approximately 2:45 local time in Buffalo (1:45 p.m. Central). West Virginia and Morgan State will tip off at 12:15 p.m. and Mizzou-Clemson will follow 30 minutes after that game ends.

As for the destination, Missouri spent some time at Niagara Falls when they played in Canada before last season. Other than that, their knowledge of the Buffalo area is limited.

"I know it's probably cold," Anderson said with a smile.

PowerMizzou.com will have previews and analysis of the tournament all week long.

Nobody covers the Tigers like PowerMizzou.com. If you are not yet a member, just try out our free seven-day trial.



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