After taking two of three from Bama and throttling State in the midweek Governor's Cup, Ole Miss baseball is on a bit of a roll. But with three weeks left in what's been an up and down regular season, the Rebs haven't locked themselves into the NCAA Tournament just yet.
The answer to the question posed in the headline is actually pretty straightforward: in order to get a ticket to baseball's Big Dance, Ole Miss needs to finish the season with a winning record.
Oh, you were expecting more than a sentence of explanation? Fine.
Ole Miss' 24-22 overall record and 10-11 SEC mark is underwhelming, but thanks to series wins over then-No. 1 Florida and Vandy, plus the country's second toughest strength of schedule, the Rebels' RPI sits at a healthy 33. Those numbers -- the RPI and SOS -- all but guarantee a tourney spot. In fact, D1 Baseball's latest projections have the Rebs as a two-seed.
But there's a catch: that impressive RPI doesn't mean a thing if Ole Miss doesn't have a winning record by season's end. In order to be considered for an at-large bid, the NCAA requires a team to be at least one game above .500.
After Tuesday's win in Pearl, the Rebs currently sit two games above .500 with 10 games left on the schedule. Simple math tells us they need to notch five more Ws to finish 29-27.
Wins and losses during conference tournaments also factor into the final record. But since the first round of SEC Tourney is single-elimination, the Rebs can do no worse than leaving Hoover with one net loss (they'll either go 0-1, 1-2, 2-2 or better*). That would leave them one game above .500.
So Ole Miss needs to split its final 10 games, six of which are against ranked teams.
May 1: at No. 21 Missouri
May 2: at No. 21 Missouri
May 3: at No. 21 Missouri
May 7: vs Mississippi State
May 8: vs Mississippi State
May 9: vs Mississippi State
May 12: at Arkansas State
May 14: vs No. 4 Texas A&M
May 15: vs No. 4 Texas A&M
May 16: vs No. 4 Texas A&M
State's a train wreck right now, but rivalry games are rivalry games. And don't sleep on Arkansas State -- Ole Miss had to scrape out a 2-1 home win against them back in February and this time around the game's in Jonesboro.
The Rebs don't necessarily have to win five of those last 10 -- they'll be able to make up ground by winning games in Hoover -- but anything less is playing with fire.
*thanks to Logo and PCB for pointing out that the first round of the SECT is single elimination.