Sure, the NCAA Tournament is the end goal for everyone.
But, the NIT is the people’s tournament.
Ole Miss (16-11) is set to take on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (21-7) out of Conference USA. Lousiana Tech is coming off a 54-48 loss in the conference tournament semifinals and is going to bring plenty of problems for Kermit Davis’ squad this weekend. Head coach Erick Konkol’s group is led by two forwards. Isaiah Crawford (12.1 points) and Kalob Ledoux (11.3 points) are the names to know in the frontcourt while Kenneth “Not That One” Lofton ( 11 points, 7.3 rebounds) is the heavy hitter in the backcourt.
The Bulldogs had an impressive season sweep of UAB (their head coach you may remember) and took one-of-two from fellow NIT selection Western Kentucky (another head coach you may remember). Louisiana Tech sits at 76th in the NET and have two combined Q1 and Q2 wins compared to the Rebs’ 53rd NET ranking and 7-9 record against the first two quads.
The Bulldogs average 73.5 points per game while Ole Miss has held their opponents to 63.4 this season. So, they don’t light it up offensively and if memory serves, if the Rebels can do what they want to do defensively, it could give the Bulldogs fits on Friday.
All jokes aside, it’s a huge bummer that Ole Miss was unable to win at least one against a bad Georgia team and dropped a late stinker to Vanderbilt on the road without its two best players. But, on the bright side, the 2019 champion, Texas, used its NIT run a few years ago to catapult themselves into the NCAA tournament field in 2021 as a three-seed.
If Kermit and Co. can win a few games in Texas and compete for the trophy, things could potentially start to look up as the program turns the page to 2021-2022.