The Maneater

Women’s basketball misses out on host bid, set to play at Stanford

Missouri will play in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.

Sophie Cunningham in action against Mississippi State.

Missouri women’s basketball learned its NCAA Tournament fate on Monday night. The Tigers missed out on a host bid but earned its third-straight bid to the Big Dance.

Instead of playing at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers will head to Palo Alto, California, in Stanford’s regional as the No. 5 seed in the Lexington Region.

Missouri (24-7) had been projected to host for most of the season, but late losses to Georgia and Texas A&M cost the Tigers a chance of starting the NCAA Tournament at home.

Missouri will start its tournament run by playing No. 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast in the first round on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

If Missouri were to win, it would play the winner of No. 4 seed Stanford and No. 13 seed Gonzaga on Monday.

Looking ahead, the Tigers will face some of their toughest competition in Palo Alto. If they were to advance out of the regional, they would play in Lexington, Kentucky, and likely be matched up with No. 1 seed Louisville on March 23.

Here’s a look at the other three teams that will be playing in Palo Alto this weekend.

Florida Gulf Coast:

The Eagles (30-4) are the Atlantic Sun champions and come into March scorching hot. They have won 21 of their last 22 and dominated the conference with a 13-1 record, winning their three conference tournament games by an average of 27 points.

FGCU has also shown it can compete with Power Five opponents with wins over Illinois and Kentucky earlier this season. The Eagles trounced Illinois 85-61 in its season opener.

Missouri’s first-round opponent has a balanced and dangerous offense that shoots a lot from outside.

FGCU attempts over 33 3 pointers per contest and converts 36 percent of its attempts from deep. It also has nine players in its rotation who shoot over 30 percent from behind the arc.

The team is led by senior forward Rosemarie Julien and redshirt senior guards China Dow and Taylor Gradinjan. Julien leads the Eagles with 13.4 points per game, while Dow and Gradinjan average 11.8 and 10.2 points, respectively.

One advantage the Tigers will have over FGCU is size. All of the Eagles stand under 6 feet while Missouri has 6-foot-4 junior Cierra Porter, 6-foot-1 redshirt senior Jordan Frericks and 6-foot-1 junior Sophie Cunningham in its starting lineup.

Missouri will be heavily favored over the Eagles but will have to be wary of an upset.

Stanford

The Cardinal would be Missouri’s most likely opponent should it advance past Florida Gulf Coast. Stanford is the host of the regional and will be playing in front of its home fans in Palo Alto coming off its 77-57 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

Stanford (22-10) has a worse record than the Tigers, but the Cardinal had one of the nation’s toughest schedules. Stanford has played 12 games against ranked opponents and is 4-8 in those games, including an 83-71 loss to Tennessee and a 78-53 loss to Connecticut.

Stanford is led by senior guard Brittany McPhee who averages 17 points, five rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. McPhee is a crafty player who can score from a variety of places on the floor.

Stanford is a defensive-minded team, holding teams to 36.1 percent from the floor and 28.3 percent from behind the arc.

Missouri has struggled against teams that slow the game down and are strong on the defensive end, losing to Georgia twice and also losing to LSU.

Gonzaga

The Bulldogs (27-5) are another mid-major champion, punching their ticket to the tournament with a win over San Diego in the West Coast Conference championship game to finish the season with seven straight wins.

Gonzaga and redshirt junior Jill Barta could cause a scare for Stanford in the first round. Barta is one of the most versatile players in the country as a 6-foot-3 forward who stretches the floor. She averages 18.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while shooting 37 percent from 3.

Barta will cause matchup problems for the Cardinal in the first round and would be the Tigers main concern should they play Gonzaga in the round of 32.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

Share: Facebook / Twitter / Google+

Article comments

0 comments

This item does not have any approved comments yet.

Post a comment

Please provide a full name for all comments. We don't post obscene, offensive or pure hate speech.