Ole Miss baseball sits precariously atop the NCAA Tournament bubble, which means a daunting final month of its regular season schedule presents the opportunity to slide either way. With nine of the Rebels’ final 12 games coming on the road against RPI top-25 opponents, Mike Bianco’s club faces both an intimidating challenge and a golden opportunity over the next four weeks.
Ole Miss was able to avoid a disastrous backslide over the weekend, fighting back from a Friday-night beatdown to take the final two games and the series from a middling Mizzou team. A superb pitching performance by freshman Ryan Rolison helped carry the day on Saturday and the bats woke up to pound out nine runs on nine hits to take the rubber game on Sunday. The series win keeps Ole Miss afloat at 9-9 in the SEC.
Even with the series win, the Rebels dropped two spots to No. 40 in the RPI thanks to a midweek home game against terrible Arkansas-Pine Bluff. That, combined with their current conference record, makes for one bubbly resume. Coming into last week, Ole Miss was considered one of the first four in by D1 Baseball and one of the first four out by Baseball America.
It’s generally accepted that it takes at least 14 or 15 conference wins to get an SEC team into the NCAAs, meaning Ole Miss probably needs to win at least half of its final 12 games to feel comfortable heading into the conference tourney.
Sounds easy enough, yea? A quick glance at the final four weekends might change your mind:
- at Arkansas (No. 12 RPI)
- at Florida (No. 7 RPI)
- vs. Texas A&M (No. 42 RPI)
- at Auburn (No. 22 RPI)
(There’s also the Tuesday night Governor’s Cup in Pearl against Mississippi State, the No. 19 RPI team.)
The silver lining is that if Ole Miss can win six or seven of those final conference games, the RPI will take care of itself. It’s just a matter of finding those wins.