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Basketball Schedule Released

I know football season is fast approaching, but Andy Kennedy released the 2008-2009-basketball schedule the other day. There are actually some intriguing match-ups on it.

Highlighting the schedule are games at New Mexico, against Louisville in Cincinnati, Southern in Biloxi, West Virginia and South Alabama at home, the return game with UCF and the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach.

Apart from these games you have your expected pushovers with teams like Alabama State, Morgan State, etc.

Louisville – Do not expect to win this game. Even though Pitino looks like some sleazy used car salesman and may be the first person to out dress Craig Sager on a basketball court, he is still a fantastic coach and has plenty of talent on his team. While he is losing players like David Padgett, Juan Palacios (felt like he was there for 6 years) and Derrick Caracter (may be a good thing), Pitino still has talent such as Earl Clark and Terrence Williams returning. Add two big (literally) time recruits in Terrence Jennings and Samardo Samuels and you are looking at a top five team.

New Mexico – The Pit is never an easy place to play, and Steve Alford is quietly elevating New Mexico back into the national spotlight in basketball. The Lobos will sorely miss J.R. Giddens, but return two of their top scorers for their senior season and will add some good looking recruits including Jackson, MS native Isaiah Rusher. Alford was also able to beat our Kansas for SG Phillip McDonald. Despite the rather easy victory over the Lobos in Oxford, I expect this one to be very difficult to win.

West Virginia – Bob Huggins appears to be throwing his old boy a bone with this home and home series. WVU made the sweet 16 last year but suffered a big loss when Joe Alexander declared early. Huggins is still left with talent at guard with sharp shooter Alex Ruoff, Joe Mazzulla who had some big time performances in the Tournament and Da’Sean Butler. They also add one of the top recruits in the nation in Devin Ebanks. Check out this kid's video and remember his name. Still, I see this as a winnable game for the Rebels. The Mountaineers are very similar to Ole Miss not only in coaching style, but their roster as well. Having graduated the bulk of their front court they are an undersized team and will rely on incoming freshmen down low this season.

These are the three main games on the OOC schedule. The SEC schedule is the same as it is every year. We open on the road, play the SEC West teams twice and if we played an East team on the road last year we have them at home. Sadly, this may be surprising to some Ole Miss fans.

At best, I see the Rebels taking two of these three games. In all honesty, we have very little chance of beating Louisville and given AK's history on the road I am not all that optimistic about beating New Mexico. I think we beat the Mountaineers and run the rest of the OOC schedule putting us in good shape for a Tourament run in a wide open SEC.