We are three and half weeks away from Selection Sunday, March 17th. The Rebels sit as a 10-11 seed (depending on where you look) at 19-6 (8-4), 52 RPI, 33 BPI. The Rebels have a soft schedule going forward and a three chances to pick up top 100 wins. If Kennedy's squad can beat Arkansas, A&M, and Alabama, they'd be 8-6 against the top 100 RPI going into the SEC Tournament. Ole Miss is also 4th in the conference standings which would earn them a double-bye in the conference tourney.
If the season ended today, the Rebels would make the tournament. But, if they suffer one or two bad losses going forward, Ole Miss would be back in a familiar spot on the bubble.
As we all know, there are 31 automatic qualifiers from conference tournament winners. This leaves only 37 at-large bids. I did a little bit of research on who the Rebels should root for in these conference tourneys, so that no at-large bids are taken away by upsets. These predictions are taken from CBS Sports because I can't stand looking at Joe Lunardi (except for his S-Curve, no picture available).
The In-Crowd (7)
These are conferences that are projected to have at least 5 at-large bids regardless of what happens in the conference tournament. I'm banking on one of these at-large bids securing the conference championship, but anything can happen.
ACC (4)--Miami, Duke, UNC, NC State
A-10 (6)--VCU, Butler, La Salle, Charlotte, Saint Louis, Temple
Big 10 (7)--Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan
Big 12 (5)--Kansas, KSU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma
Big East (8)--Syracuse, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Villanova, Pittsburgh
Mountain West (5)--New Mexico, Colorado State, Boise State, San Diego State, UNLV
Pac 12 (5)--Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, Cal, Colorado
The Stags (14)
These are conferences that are projected to receive only one bid regardless of who wins the tournament. All teams in these conferences fall outside the top 60 RP, so no matter what happens, these conference champs should heading to the Big Dance all alone.
America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MEAC, NEC, SWAC, Southern, Southland
The Belle’s of The Ball (10)
These conferences have at least one team that will probably make the tournament even if they don’t win the conference championship. These are the teams all bubble teams will be eyeing. If these teams don’t win, one bubble team’s hopes and dreams will burst.
We’ll start with teams on the high side of the S-Curve and work our way down.
Jocks (like ‘locks’…get it? They’re definitely going to the Dance…It’s a prom joke. Whatever)
WCC (Gonzaga and St. Mary’s)—Shouldn’t be too much drama here. Gonzaga is one of the best teams in the country, and Saint Mary’s should end up on the right side of the bubble at the end of the season.
C-USA (Memphis)—The Tigers are no. 24 on ESPN’s S-Curve and no. 24 in RPI. Memphis is undefeated in conference play and should have the top seed in the C-USA tournament. Southern Miss will likely be the biggest challenger come March. Although they are no. 37 in RPI both ESPN and CBS have them currently missing the tournament.
SEC (Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss)—With the unfortunate(ly timed injury…kidding) injury to Nerlins Noel, Kentucky is going to be on the outside looking in, but could make some noise in the SEC tournament if they can get their acts together. If Florida or Missouri can cut down the nets in Nashville, no bubble spots should be taken. Obviously, Ole Miss winning it all would be ideal, but crazy things happen in the SEC tournament (Georgia 2008). Although, these teams would be heavy favorites going in, an Alabama or improved Kentucky squad could definitely ruin it for everyone.
Missouri Valley (Wichita St. and Creighton)—Both of these teams are on the good side of the S-Curve and will probably meet in the championship with Northern Iowa and Indiana State, third and fourth in conference standings, respectively, failing to impress during conference play.
Sun Belt (Middle Tennessee State)—The Blue Raiders have a 15-1 conference record with their lone loss coming to Arkansas State (RPI 142). The Raiders are no. 26 in RPI and will definitely be making the dance. South Alabama and ASU look to be the biggest challengers going forward.
Ohio Valley (Belmont)—The Bruins are no. 25 in RPI and clearly have the most impressive resume in the conference. Eastern Kentucky though is sitting with a no. 68 RPI and could challenge the Bruins who have two losses in conference this year.
WAC (La Tech)—Louisiana Tech has rolled through the conference undefeated to this point and have a no. 47 RPI to show for it. As long as they continue to play well, they’ll be dancing in March. Denver and New Mexico State are the biggest obstacles going forward with both teams being well off the bubble.
MAC (Akron)—Also undefeated in conference play (48 RPI), the Zips are the clear favorite for the MAC tournament. They’re closest victory in conference was a 54-50 victory at Miami (OH), who will likely be the no. 2 seed.
The Back-up Plans
Patriot (Bucknell)—Bucknell would be right on the bubble if they don’t win their conference tournament. They Patriot league has turned into a two team race with Bucknell at 9-2 and Lehigh at 8-3. Lehigh is no. 95 in RPI and would have to win the championship to make the dance. The two teams have split in head-to-head matchups this season.
The Might Be Staying Home Anyway
Summit (South Dakota State)—The Jackrabbits are no. 66 in RPI rankings, and the Summit might be a one-bid conference regardless. If they win out and have a decent showing in the tournament, they might be able to squeeze out an at-large bid. This seems unlikely, but the Selection Committee doesn’t always make the most reasonable decisions.
So, there you have it. 10 conference tournaments we Rebels should keep an eye on as Selection Sunday approaches. I’ll keep this updated as the season winds down.
Ole Miss plays at South Carolina at 7 ET on the beautiful White Girl Wednesday. Wouldn't be much of a win, but could be a big hit to our resume in a loss.
UPDATE: With tonight's loss to South Carolina, forget I ever mentioned us making the tournament. My apologies.