It hasn't been an incredible season thus far. It hasn't been bad, but it hasn't been particularly great, either. There are a couple of good wins under this team's belt, just as there are a few embarrassing losses. Such is college basketball, I suppose, but such shouldn't deter anybody with the reasonable means to do so from making their way to the Tad Pad tonight to watch the Ole Miss Rebels take on the #13 Florida Gators in what could be a "swing" type of game regarding the remainder of this season and this squad's NCAA Tournament ambitions.
Going in Ole Miss' favor are a few key factors. First, Ole Miss us undefeated at home, while Florida is 1-3 on the road. The Gators' road losses, though, aren't exactly horrifying - a loss at Tennessee as well as losses at highly ranked Ohio State and Syracuse teams. Ole Miss should have the advantage off of the glass, with Florida being one of the SEC's worst rebounding teams, whereas our Rebels are, statistically, the best rebounding team in the conference (averaging 43.6 boards a game, whereas Florida averages 31.3). If the gameplans used against Mississippi State and Georgia are effective tonight, the Rebels should be able to control the ball below the bucket.
Florida does, though, shoot lights out from beyond the arc. In fact, they're one of the best teams in the country at three-point shooting, making them a top-10 team nationally in offensive output. Look for Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, who average 13 and 18 points per game respectively, to shoot early and often from the perimeter. They're also much more reliable from the line than our Rebels which, perhaps, isn't saying much, considering Ole Miss' position as the SEC's worst free throw shooting team as of this point in the season.
Winning this game is a must for the Rebels. We're, per the usual, on the outside looking in with regards to March at this point. A victory tonight would cement "bubble" status and, at the very least, give us good position going forward. Rebel fans and students, y'all have no excuse to not be there. Get there early, get liquored up beforehand if you must, and be unbearably loud. The Tad Pad has been a great home court for us thus far; let's keep it that way.
For those of you who cannot make it to the game, it will be broadcast tonight at 6:00 PM Central on ESPN2. Again, the game will be on ESPN2 at 6:00 PM Central. Don't miss it. As for a score prediction... I'm too anxious to make one.