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Ole Miss basketball now a projected 9-seed for NCAA Tournament

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ESPN predicts a rematch with Baylor in first round

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

In the last week, Ole Miss has won a game in unimpressive fashion against Georgia, and nearly upset top ten Tennessee.

Winning, according to a recent internet search I conducted, is better than losing, so I expected Ole Miss to hold its ground at least in the most recent bracket projections released today.

Projections are divided on how Ole Miss will fare, however, on Selection Sunday, which is now achingly close. The Rebels have three games remaining - at Arkansas, No. 4 Kentucky, and at Missouri - to earn up to 22 regular season wins, 12 SEC wins, potentially move into a top four spot in conference and earn a double bye in the SEC Tournament.

These last three games, honestly, may not have a lot to do with the postseason as teams are just not moving nearly as much on a game by game basis in the NCAA Evaluation Tool or NET standings. Most likely, this can be attributed to one game’s data not outweighing 28 or 29 games’ worth of data, so Ole Miss sits in a pretty good spot.

Let’s dive into the numbers again to see where the Rebels are.

Ole Miss’ tourney resume

NET rank: 38

KenPom rank: 43

Strength of schedule: 48

Record: 19-9 (9-6 SEC)

Record vs. Group 1 teams: 4-7

Record vs. Group 2 teams: 5-2

Record vs. Group 3 teams: 4-0

Record vs. Group 4 teams: 6-0

Record at home: 11-4

Record on the road/neutral site: 8-5

Notable wins: No. 23 Auburn (twice), at No. 20 Mississippi St., No. 35 Baylor

Notable losses: No. 7 Tennessee, No. 13 LSU, No. 14 Iowa St., No. 20 Mississippi St., No. 22 Cincinnati, at No. 29 Florida, at No. 54 Butler, at No. 48 Alabama, at No. 86 South Carolina

Auburn, I hate you, but I really appreciate you losing to Ole Miss twice. While the Tigers may have fallen off its top 25 level as the season progressed, the metrics love Auburn helping Ole Miss’ chances for a bid in March.

The only black mark or red flag on the Ole Miss resume now is the loss at South Carolina. It’s not going to go away unfortunately, but it’s also not a really terrible loss. Two of the three remaining games will also be quadrant one rated - at Arkansas and versus Kentucky. The finale at Missouri who is barely in the NET top 100 is the landmine that could affect seeding at this point in my opinion.

Essentially, to be able to breathe easy going into the SECT, Ole Miss needs to go 2-1 in its final three games.

Ole Miss bracket projections

Joe Lunardi (ESPN): 9-seed

Jerry Palm (CBS): 7-seed

Joe Lunardi at ESPN is really not wanting to do the Rebels any favors with the seeding he slotted. As a 9-seed vs. an 8-seed Baylor, not only would Ole Miss have to overcome a team it has already beaten on a neutral site, but it would then potentially play 1-seed Virginia. Joe, we really don’t like this look, and you can no longer sit with us at lunch.

Jerry Palm, however, come on in and sit for a spell, brother. Here’s a fine glass of bourbon. Our very good CBS friend put the Rebels at a 7-seed vs. 10-seed TCU with a potential second round game against Michigan. It’s easy to see the potential here for a Sweet Sixteen upset and Cinderella story for the Rebels compared to the Lunardi projection. Not saying it would be easy or that it would happen, but its definitely a better fit.

A look at Ole Miss’ losses

Let’s look at some of the numbers for the teams Ole Miss has fallen to so far this year.

Tennessee

Record: 25-3 (13-2 SEC)

NET rank: 7

KenPom rank: 8

Iowa State

Record: 20-8 (9-6 Big XII)

NET rank: 14

KenPom rank: 13

Mississippi State

Record: 21-7 (9-6 SEC)

NET rank: 20

KenPom rank: 20

Florida

Record: 17-11 (9-6 SEC)

NET rank: 29

KenPom rank: 28

Alabama

Record: 17-11 (8-7 SEC)

NET rank: 48

KenPom rank: 56

LSU

Record: 23-5 (13-2 SEC)

NET rank: 13

KenPom rank: 21

Cincinnati

Record: 24-4 (13-2 AAC)

NET rank: 22

KenPom rank: 30

Butler

Record: 15-13 (6-9 Big East)

NET rank: 54

KenPom rank: 57

South Carolina

Record: 14-14 (9-6 SEC)

NET rank: 86

KenPom rank: 85

It’s a pretty straight forward situation for Ole Miss given the nine losses they’ve accumulated. One more win and I think they have a very strong case for a bid in the NCAA Tournament. If they lose out and end up in the National Invitational Tournament, it would be disappointing, but it would still be a far cry from what any of us predicted going into this season.

Three games left - can the Rebels close strong? Comment or tweet @RedCupRebellion with your take on the latest bracket projections.