SEC Basketball Tournament: Ole Miss Faces Long Road to Big Dance

South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama/Georgia and then most likely Florida or Vanderbilt.

That's the road to the NCAA tournament for Ole Miss. I know coaches preach the "one game at a time mentality" and that's great for the team, but we're fans so look big picture here.

I tried looking at some point during our season where we went on a four game streak that could be replicated in Atlanta – couldn't find a good example.

So what Ole Miss needs is to play like it has not all season – with consistency on offense and defense for the next 160 minutes.

The best stretch of games I can point to for Ole Miss is in February. Knocking off Kentucky in Oxford, winning on the road against Arkansas and then coming home to sweep LSU. 

The game after that streak, at Alabama, was pretty rough ending in a 10-point loss. There's absolutely no real reasoning to believe Ole Miss could make a run other than the magical moments of March like Georgia's unpredictable run in 2008 (nicknamed the Tornado Year).

Chris Warren and Zach Graham undoubtedly will have to carry the load offensively during a winning streak that will be required to win the tournament. Reginald Buckner and Terrance Henry will need great defensive stops throughout these games and will not be able to foul out.

Andy Kennedy, simply put, has got to get this team believing it can do this. That's the kind of team we saw close out its schedule against Arkansas – a confident team who knew it was going to win. Replicate that type of desire and performance and a tournament championship may not be as elusive as it seems now.

Ultimately though, defense wins championships, and it's why Alabama really has a shot to win the SEC tourney this year and defeat the Rebels if they make it to the semi-finals. Kentucky will be dead set on revenge facing Ole Miss after a presumable win over South Carolina.

OUR GAME TODAY IS AT 2:30 ON ESPN3 OUR GAME TODAY IS AT 2:30 ON ESPN3 OUR GAME TODAY IS AT 2:30 ON ESPN3 OUR GAME TODAY IS AT 2:30 ON ESPN3 OUR GAME TODAY IS AT 2:30 ON ESPN3 OUR GAME TODAY IS AT 2:30 ON ESPN3

So what are we getting at? This set of Rebels is one of the most accomplished groups of players we've had in the history of our program, but there's no SEC tournament victories and no NCAA tournament berths. If they can at least win today, it'll be another achievement for this team – it's 20th win and a date with Kentucky Friday.

Then, we'll most likely be getting ready for the NIT, but the funny thing about basketball in the month of March is that there's always a few unlikely teams who make runs in tournaments. We've shown the talent at times to do this, but we sure as hell won't be predicting our team to do it.

Prediction:

Ole Miss 78

South Carolina 71

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