Ticket Punched: English, Missouri make resounding case for No. 1 seed

Earlier this week, Missouri senior guard Kim English called Kansas City, Mo., 'our city' as the Tigers headed an hour west for the program's final jaunt through the Big 12 tournament.

Their comfort level at the Sprint Center was clear all weekend, and a relative sweat-free jaunt through the field ended with a dominating 90-75 title game victory over Baylor on Saturday evening.

Is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament the residual prize?

Well, what North Carolina and Michigan State do on Sunday in their respective championship tilts could have plenty to do with that. Their case is strong, and Saturday's result may have vaulted them ahead of rival Kansas in the No. 1 seed pecking order. They had an undefeated non-conference season, won 30 games and were as consistently dominant as anyone in America this year.

But whether the Tigers get a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the upcoming NCAA tourney, they appear to be as dangerous as ever.

Saturday showed just how good Missouri is when it's playing to its potential.

As has been the case several times this season, the Tigers' lack of depth and size on the interior meant they gave up quite a bit on the glass to the long, athletic Bears.

But they compensated for it in so many other ways.

Missouri was 28-of-52 from the floor, hit nine of 21 3-point tries and was able to draw all kinds of whistles with its bevy of quick, shifty guards.

And when they got to the free throw line, they were 25-of-31.

Frank Haith's club controlled the tempo and simply won by being more prolific on the offensive end.

And that's what the Tigers will have to rely on moving forward.

Down the stretch run of the season, Marcus Denmon and Mike Dixon have been reliable performers in the Missouri backcourt. On Saturday, up-and-down Flip Pressey went for 15 points, with eight assists and only one turnover in 37 minutes played.

But English has the look of a guy who could legitimately carry the Tigers quite a ways this month.

Despite a scary leg injury that involved what looked a hard knee to the thigh on Friday against Texas, he sucked it up and played on Saturday.

He played 36 minutes.

English, despite the pain, went 6-of-10 from the floor and hit five 3-pointers, finishing with 19 points in the program's Big 12 swan song.

For the tournament, English scored 69 points off of incredible 26-of-33 shooting, including going 10-of-15 from deep.

It's not a given that Missouri can play like this every time out.

But they've done so more than they haven't this season, and when they do, it's as beautiful a brand of hoop as you'll find in the college game today.

If they continue to over the next couple of weekends, it's going to be tough for anyone to take them down.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for RunRebs.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanmgreene.

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