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An Ole Miss Basketball Fan’s Guide to the Sweet Sixteen

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There are sixteen teams left in the tournament, and Ole Miss isn’t one of them. So who should you cheer for?

Maryland v LSU
Lol no we ain’t cheering for LSU
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The NCAA Division-I men’s basketball tournament continues today, and your favorite Ole Miss Rebels will not be a part of it. We are sorry to inform you of this. We do, however, know you still have intentions to watch the tournament, and perhaps need some guidance to know which teams should be of particular interest to you. You may have a filled-out bracket or two to lean on to guide your rooting interests, but that is a rather soulless, unimaginative way to go about the next couple of weekends of basketball.

No, you, an Ole Miss fan who is still trying to block out the memory of your Rebels’ hasty first-round tournament departure, need a better reason to watch than “I have Duke winning in my office pool.” You need help making Sweet Sixteen decisions that are based on your reasonable rooting interests, interests for the sake of college basketball, and interests that are otherwise arbitrary and stupidly emotional. That’s where this guide comes in.

So let’s look at who is in the Sweet Sixteen, and determine whether or not you, an Ole Miss fan, should root for them this weekend.

LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, or Kentucky?

Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way. You are not cheering for any of these teams. “But I’m an SEC fan! I cheer for the SEC!” No, you are not. You are an Ole Miss fan. Stop cheering for SEC teams that are not Ole Miss. They are still in the tournament and we are not, and we resent them for it. That’s perfectly fine.

But I kinda want LSU to win just to sorta spite the whole thing? Make a mockery of the institution that is NCAA basketball, y’know?

Yeah, that would be pretty funny I think. That’s fair.

Duke or North Carolina?

This is a tough one. On the one hand, nobody willingly affiliated with Duke in any sort of capacity deserves any sort of happiness ever. On the other hand, Zion Williamson. Y’all seen this guy? He’s great. His shoe exploded and it was all half of the country could talk about for days. Nike made him a custom shoe and then CBS dedicated a camera to following himand only him around during games. He exposes the farce and silliness of “amateur student athletes” and reminds us that none of our outrage ever matters because we are powerless to do anything about it. Eat at Arby’s.

On the other hand, it’s super convenient to cheer for North Carolina, which is why people do it. People cheer for them by default because they’re the anti-Duke. That’s not a good reason for anything. They don’t deserve your praise.

Michael Jordan is a jerk and LeBron is the GOAT. People forget this.

Florida State?

Absolutely not.

Virginia?

Virginia is the most boring basketball team in this tournament. They could very easily get to the Final Four by winning a bunch of 48-40 type of games that are slow, never really in doubt, and have absolutely no dunking you heathen. Do not cheer for this stuff, don’t encourage it.

Virginia Tech?

So if you feel like you must cheer for an ACC team, make it the Hokies. Their mascot is a turkey, which is great, and they have their own Hotty Toddy-esque thing going with their band. Also, Nickeil Alexander-Walker will probably be playing for an NBA team you hate in a year, so cheer for him now while you can.

Gonzaga?

The Zags have been to the Sweet Sixteen five years in a row now. We can stop talking about them like they’re some sort of plucky underdog, right? They are really good, and are a legitimate national title contender this year, which means they will almost certainly lose by 10 or so to Florida State tonight.

Oregon?

We will always cheer for our Nike overlords. Go Ducks.

Michigan or Michigan State?

So this one can be a bit tricky. John Beilein is a really nice guy—I mean it, I met the guy once and he was nice to me—and is a great coach. You want him and his Wolverines to do well. The problem is that you also don’t, because #MichiganMen do not deserve happiness.

Sparty is also better at basketball, and is a cooler mascot. Green is a neat color, too. But if you are going to have to cheer for a B1G school, make it...

Purdue?

BOILER UP BABY!

(But you aren’t going to cheer for a B1G school because you’re an SEC fan. Okay, you aren’t that, we have already discussed that, but for the purposes of determining who outside of your typical allegiances you will cheer for this weekend, that somehow still matters. It’s complicated, but it makes sense.)

Houston?

Around here, we love that big, sprawly, swamp-assy mess of a city. I guess we don’t have super strong opinions about their basketball team, but Dana Holgorsen coaches football there now which is absolutely perfect (particularly when paired with a Red Bull and an inscrutable and inappropriate hand gesture). Go Cougs.

Texas Tech?

Does anyone else have a weird suspicion that Texas Tech is going to win this thing? Okay, I know the real answer is “no” but play with me in this space I’ve created. Texas Tech plays solid defense, so anyone who has an off night against them will lose. It’s a winning formula (they aren’t a 3-seed by accident) and it’s one that could carry them through the tournament. Look, just run with it, okay?

They win the whole thing, beating Michigan and Gonzaga and Duke and North Carolina or whomever else, and they cut down the nets, and Red Raiders fans throw tortillas at things and do their silly finger guns all over the place. It happens. It’s weird.

And Texas and Texas A&M fans are just sitting there stewing in it. Think about that. Wouldn’t that rule so hard? Guns up, y’all.