Saturday, December 4, 2021

Can The Rebels Reach The Promised Land?

Going into battle on Saturday against Auburn, the Rebel basketball team looks to finish with the 20-win mark.

Photo courtesy of Paul Keelaghan

Ten years ago, that mark would be a guarantee to make the Promised Land (a.k.a. the NCAA tournament) in March.
Today’s tournament committee looks more in-depth at the schedule a team plays, the wins and losses, and the wins and losses of the opponent. So before the committee has a chance to determine Ole Miss’ fate, let’s look at the season as a whole.
The first thing that the committee will look at is the strength of the schedule Ole Miss has faced. This works in the Rebels’ favor since their strength of schedule is 30 out of 351 teams. However, our non-conference strength of schedule is 43, and our conference SOS is 65.
The committee also looks at what conference a team plays in. For the Rebels, the SEC is not known as a powerhouse in basketball.
After Kentucky and Florida, the SEC is known for mediocre basketball teams, and that is no different this year. The top three schools are Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida. After that, there is a congestion of teams all close in rankings, such as Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Auburn, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Based on this, the conference ends up being a negative factor for the Rebels who sit at No. 9 in the conference rankings.
Lastly, the committee will look at the RPI (Rating Percentage Index) that ranks teams based on wins, losses and strength of schedule. 
This is a huge factor for the committee because it gives them the opportunity to look at who a team played and if they had any terrible losses. For the Rebels, the RPI is not a great ranking, but if the committee went directly off the ranking, we would squeeze into the tournament. The Rebs are tied in 69 with Valparaiso, boasting a .5658 RPI rankings.
Who Else Is On Edge
There are other teams that are facing these nerve-racking weeks like Ole Miss. 
Clemson                               RPI: 54                    SOS: 27
Indiana                                RPI: 76                     SOS: 58
Illinois State                        RPI: 36                    SOS: 133
Seaton Hall                           RPI: 37                    SOS: 39
California                              RPI: 35                    SOS: 45
Tennessee                            RPI: 33                    SOS: 4
Georgia Tech                        RPI: 78                    SOS: 42
Rhode Island                        RPI: 38                    SOS: 48
Ole Miss                                 RPI: 69                    SOS: 30
Ole Miss will need more than 20 wins to make the tournament. They need to make a deep run in the SEC tournament to clinch a berth into the March Madness. The Rebs are also hoping other teams will falter down this home stretch. Even if all these things work out, they are not guaranteed anything unless they win the conference championship.
Ole Miss Remaining Schedule
Feb 11             Auburn
Feb 14             LSU
Feb 18             @Arkansas
Feb 21             @Mississippi St
Feb 25             Missouri
March 1           @Alabama 
March 4           South Carolina


By Nick Bushart, an intern for HottyToddy.com and a student of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at nabushar@go.olemiss.edu.
For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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