“One Man, c’mon bruh, please fam... don’t try and get our hopes up.”
”I’ve already given up on this team, they ain’t going nowhere postseason.”
These are things you’re going to say reading this, and none of them are outside the box or insane to bring up.
But yaboi OMTB keeps peeking at these last 10 basketball games, and there’s not just 10 opportunities to go from “not on the tourney radar” to “squarely in the Big Dance.”
”One Man, please stop drinking Bailey’s and coffee and switch to bleach,” you say.
We must plug on. Here’s where the Rebels sit currently:
- Record: 11-10 (4-4 SEC)
- KenPom ranking: 76
- KP SoS: 28
- RPI ranking: 76
- Record vs 1-25: 0-2
- Record vs 26-50: 2-4
- Record vs 51-100: 4-3
Clearly, the record does not speak to a sparkling item on the NCAA resume for the Rebels. The old standard of 20 wins though is also out the window as the Selection Committee has come out publicly and said metrics such as strength of schedule and KenPom rankings will come more into play as the old RPI formula has waned in popularity and accuracy.
That being said, the Rebels have tons of work to do. The final 10 games are all vs top 90 KenPom teams and 9-of-10 games are vs top 100 RPI teams with only Vanderbilt at 112 the final game and a home game as a dangerous outlier. Five home and five away games construct the final path to ultimate destiny or depression.
Upcoming Slate (KenPom ranking)
- Auburn - 8th
- @Tennessee - 10th
- Missouri - 49th
- @LSU - 64th
- Arkansas - 47th
- @Mississippi State - 71st
- @Missouri- 49th
- Tennessee - 10th
- @Kentucky - 25th
- Vanderbilt - 90th
Least Probable Wins: Kentucky and Tennessee
Looking at this schedule, there are two games that we can most likely scratch through for wins — Kentucky and Tennessee on the road. The Wildcats are not the dominant force it was last season, but they are far from the MILDcats (just made this up, call the burn unit).
The Vols have shown they are for real at 15-5, and though the Rebels typically play up in Knoxville, a weekend game on the road there is a death trap. And no one outside of the Ole Miss program expects the Rebels to win either of these games, so winning either of them or both of them would be phenomenal.
Probable or Likely Road Wins: LSU, Mississippi State, and Mizzou
It would be absolutely delicious to capture road wins over LSU and Mississippi State for very rival laden reasons. Andy Kennedy’s recent record against MSU speaks for itself winning eight of the last nine.
LSU has been up and down this season at times looking really awful (losing to Notre Dame by 40) and then looking great (beating Arkansas by 20 on the road). Stephen F. Austin won in Baton Rouge, so keep fingers crossed for a nice road victory there.
Missouri has not played well of late losing five of its last seven including home losses against Florida and Auburn. The Tigers are talented, but the Rebels have a chance here to notch a road win.
Out of these three, the Rebels need to take two to stay in the picture.
Home Games: GOTTA WIN EM ALL, POKÉMON
Home games are just easier to win in college basketball, so the Rebels absolutely have to take every single one of these games to move its resume toward respectability. If the Rebels place this big piece of the puzzle into place, it will cement two top 25 victories down the stretch and turn the heads of the college basketball world.
Also, it will have compiled five(!) top 100 victories that are desperately needed. That’s neat. Especially because as of now, they only have one bad loss (Illinois State, 165th) according to KenPom.
So, it’s really cut and dry. The Rebels have to get seven or eight wins down the stretch to get back into the tournament picture. I’ve always felt AK does his best work when no one expects him to succeed.
If that’s the case, the last ten games are going to be pretty exciting.