In some ways, the basketball game today between Ole Miss and Alabama means very little.
After all, the Crimson Tide roll into Oxford with a 14-12 record and not much left to play for on the year outside of a miraculous conference tournament run.
Ole Miss (13-13, 4-9 SEC) is in rough shape too and would have to rally to get an NIT bid at this point.
But despite both being out of the running for the Big Dance, the two teams are in very different places. The Crimson Tide’s leading scorers are all underclassmen, with the only senior on the roster playing around 20 minutes per game. They’re getting some production all down their lineup, with a 7-to-9 man rotation.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, is led by senior guard Breein Tyree whose 20.3 points per game dwarf the next highest player — Devontae Shuler with 11.2 per contest. While Tyree is also the only senior on the roster, he’s the most important piece to his team. The rotation is really only six players, and a couple of those options aren’t so great.
So the teams are playing for different things in closing out the year. Alabama players are trying to gain experience with one another and finalize a few things around rotation. Ole Miss is playing to give Tyree a few last highlights in his career and figure out which players need to be back next year. There’s going to be a lot of shakeup on the Rebel roster, so these last five games you can expect to see more minutes than normal for some roster bubble guys.
Kermit Davis might still be trying to win at all costs, but I’m not sure that approach makes sense anymore. This team isn’t doing anything this year. He needs to sort out what the roster will look like next season while also allowing Breein Tyree to improve his professional standing.
Line: Ole Miss -2.5
How to watch
Where: The Pavilion at Ole Miss, Oxford, Miss.
When: 7:30pm CST
TV: SEC Network
Online streaming: WatchESPN