Team preview: Missouri State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

There's no other way around it -- the Bears of Missouri State thought the NCAA Tournament committee snubbed them last March.

And it still hurts.

If you look at the Bears' body of work for the year, they really have a good case for feeling that way, too:
• A tie for second in the Valley with a 12-6 record.
• The highest RPI in the conference at No. 21.
• Missouri State defeated three of the four Valley teams to play in NCAA Tournament and its only losses came against teams with No. 45 RPI or better.
• All losses came against teams that went to the postseason and had no fewer than 20 wins.

"It wasn't that we thought we were in," said MSU coach Barry Hinson, who was reduced to tears on
national TV when his team was denied a bid. "We knew we were in."

Instead of the Big Dance, the Bears found themselves in the NIT for the second straight year. They did a good job masking their disappointment by advancing to the quarterfinals before losing to Louisville at Freedom Hall.

Now, just like every other team in the country, the Bears are back at step one. Only this group -- with four starters back and a deep bench -- needs to put away the memories of last season and focus on the present.

"That's the way it is," Hinson said. "I can sit here moaning and groaning, but life's not always fair. We have to move on."