t's late December — a dearth for college athletics unless your beloved team is bowling or on Tobacco Road.
So maybe you've already started bumping David Guetta's "Love is Gone", Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", and been a big baby that turns off basketball games when they aren't going our way. But, SEC Basketball Fever will be alive and well in a few short days, and you're not going to get to see Timmy Rowe dick slap a dinger for at least six more weeks. So let’s focus on basketball for the time being.
You need to know what Ole Miss has to do in SEC play to turn this season around and make it to the NCAA Tourney - the ultimate unfair measuring stick for success in college basketball.
Right now, the Rebels sit at 7-5 with only one non-conference tilt vs Texas remaining. Another 18 opportunities remain to take this currently disappointing season to a magical whirlwind into March. So, in all reality, what does Ole Miss HAVE to do to make it into the NCAA tournament?
The Rebels sit at No. 78 in KenPom's rankings roughly a handful of spots from where it finished last year even with its 7-5 record. Clearly, this speaks to the quality of the schedule so far, and the close couple of losses that would have this team in a more comfortable spot had they won.
Good news here is that 12 of the other 13 teams in the SEC rank higher in the KenPom rankings - strong OOC scheduling and winning the games they should have has strengthened the conference's numbers.
But One Man, we're 13th out of 14, you're an idiot...how is that good news?
- There's nowhere to go but up.
- Nearly every game remaining will be a top 75 KenPom game, so the Rebels resume can go from garbage to gold in short order.
One of the best comparisons for the Rebels' future success is to last season's Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy entered non-conference play with a shitty 7-6 record but they then flipped that on its head with a 10-8 SEC record and two wins at the SEC Tournament. Also, for the sake of comparison, the 'Dores lost to Middle Tennessee last season by 23 points, which by no means is an awful loss, but is certainly a striking comparison to the 19-point loss the good boys suffered at the hands of the SAME TEAM IN MURFREESBORO THIS YEAR.
Granted, Vandy had a stronger OOC last season than the Rebels do this year (Marquette, Butler, and Dayton included). So ya boi OMTB is thinking the Rebels would need potentially 11 or 12 SEC wins, plus a couple SEC tournament wins to give them a good shot at the Big Dance.
We're going to need Terence Davis to stop fouling out, drink some "special stuff" out of MJ's bottle from Space Jam, and for Randy Kennedy's sake play in the post much stronger than the last 12 games.
The Rebels tip off SEC play on Sunday, Dec. 31st in the Pavilion vs South Carolina. Those same Frank Martin-led Gamecocks are 8-3 right now, but lack any real marquee wins. It could be the first step to a high seed in the Big Dance if the Rebels want to flip the script on the 2017-2018 year.
So, yeah, it’s possible.