Let me start by saying I think Coleman Coliseum is a dump.
The one trip I took Alabama’s basketball arena I thought I was going into an old Wal-Mart distribution center until I saw the big script A’s everywhere. It’s an odd building that desperately needs updating.
But for whatever it lacks in architectural and technological advances, it is a difficult place to play. Just ask Kentucky and Ole Miss. The No. 20 Rebels fell hard in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday, 74-53. It was the worst loss of the season and the Rebels couldn’t seem to hang with the Tide for more than eight to 10 minutes of the game.
Terence Davis lost his cool and fouled. By that time the blowout was on and Kermit Davis had the second team and freshmen on the court.
The good news for Rebel fans is that the loss didn’t seem to bother the bracketology experts, who largely kept the Rebels in the six to eight-seed range. Still, Ole Miss is very much playing for its postseason life with 13 games left on the schedule. This Saturday’s tilt against ranked Iowa State represents a huge opportunity to bolster the resume.
Here’s the latest bracket projections and rankings for this Rebel team.
Ole Miss resume at a glance
NET rank: 32
KenPom rank: 37
Strength of schedule: 55
Record: 14-4 (4-2 SEC)
Record vs. Group 1 teams: 2-4
Record vs. Group 2 teams: 3-0
Record vs. Group 3 teams: 3-0
Record vs. Group 4 teams: 6-0
Record at home: 8-1
Record on the road/neutral site: 6-3
Notable wins: No. 25 Auburn, at No. 31 Mississippi State, No. 52 Baylor
Notable losses: No. 12 LSU, No. 33 Cincinnati, at No. 47 Butler, No. 42 Alabama
A couple of Group 1 wins is key here. It means the Rebels can absolutely compete and win with the best teams in the country. If the trend continues, it’s a huge statement for the tournament selection committee.
Ole Miss bracket projections
Joe Lunardi (ESPN): 7 seed
Jerry Palm (CBS): 6 seed
Sports Illustrated: 8 seed
Our buddy Jerry Palm moved the Rebels back two spots from last week’s projection of a four seed, and Sports Illustrated dropped us from a 7-seed to an 8-seed.
A look at Ole Miss’ losses
Let’s look at some of the numbers for three teams Ole Miss has fallen to so far this year.
Record: 12-6 (3-3 SEC)
NET rank: 41
KenPom rank: 47
Best win: 77-75 vs. No. 8 Kentucky
Worst loss: 81-80 vs. No. 122 Texas A&M
Upcoming games: @ Baylor, Mississippi State
Record: 15-3 (5-0 SEC)
NET rank: 12
KenPom rank: 25
Best win: 83 - 69 vs. No. 32 Ole Miss
Worst loss: 90-77 vs. No. 75 Oklahoma St.
Upcoming games: @ Missouri, @ Texas A&M
Record: 17-3 (6-1 AAC)
NET rank: 32
KenPom rank: 27
Notable win: 71-57 vs. No. 32 Ole Miss
Worst loss: 73-71 vs. No. 237 East Carolina
Upcoming games: @ Temple
Record: 12-8 (3-4 Big East)
NET rank: 48
KenPom rank: 44
Notable win: 83-76 vs. No. 32 Ole Miss
Worst loss: 84-76 vs. No. 106 Georgetown
Upcoming games: @ Creighton, Marquette
When we look closely at these losses, these teams all have high end accomplishments for the season. Cincinnati has the worst loss of the bunch, but they are also tied for first in their conference and likely to be contending with Houston for the AAC title.
Butler has an opportunity every week for a really nice win. This past week, it was Villanova beating them 80-72, which is nothing to be ashamed of, but it doesn’t help Ole Miss either. This week a road trip to Creighton and then hosting top 25 Marquette could be a huge week for the Bulldogs.
LSU should continue to motor along until February when it faces four top 25 teams in the span of 17 days. Then we’ll really know where the Tigers stand.
Alabama has two tough contests ahead of it in Baylor and Mississippi St. The Tide needs to stay relevant for the road loss that Ole Miss suffered to continue to not affect the Rebels.
Ultimately, Ole Miss controls its own destiny for the next two months. The first ever top 25 college basketball game in the history of the Pavilion will tip on Saturday at 11 a.m. against Iowa St.
The Cyclones are currently No. 16 in the latest NET rankings, so a win would be another feather in the collective Ole Miss hat for the postseason. A loss won’t derail our postseason hopes though it would need to be single digits to provide a little damage control.
So where do you think the Rebels will end up? The Big Dance or the NIT? Comment or tweet @redcuprebellion with your personal projections for the rest of the season.