Inside the Bracket: Tigers run and rise

Arguably the most interesting team in the nation this season has been the Missouri Tigers. For much of the season, most of the college hoops world seemed unsure whether or not the word "paper" should precede the team's nickname, with few particularly spectacular wins in nonconference play. And indeed, after a humbling 16-point loss to Kansas State on Jan. 28, Mizzou's then-17-4 record seemed more indicative of the Tigers' schedule than the team's performance.

However, since that loss to KSU, Missouri has erased any doubts about its abilities with a 5-0 run that included wins over Baylor, at then-No. 17 Texas and a thrilling final-possession victory against rival Kansas, then ranked 16th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Suddenly it's all aboard Mizzou's dark-horse-drawn bandwagon for NCAA tournament success.

The Tigers have overcome their 92nd-ranked nonconference schedule (which did include wins over USC and Cal) to land at No. 17 in Monday's InsideRPI rankings. And with the Tigers' adjusted scoring margin (ASM) of 18.2 -- the sixth-best mark in the country behind North Carolina, Duke, Pittsburgh, Memphis and UConn -- the Tigers appear bound for big things.