Win and In?

Ole Miss earned the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament and double-bye into Friday with its win at LSU over the weekend. Now, the Rebels go to work.

Follow SpiritBen on Twitter

According to noted bracketologists Jerry Palm of and Joe Lunardi of ESPN, Ole Miss is currently on the wrong side of the bubble, among the "last four out" for both pundits.

To reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002, or to even make a case, the Rebels will have to win at least one game in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend. Ole Miss (23-8, 12-6 SEC) will open SEC tournament play against the winner of Missouri - Texas A&M/Auburn.

"We're going into the SEC tournament to try to win as many games as we can," Ole Miss assistant coach Bill Armstrong, filling in for head coach Andy Kennedy on the SEC teleconference on Monday, said.

"We know our goal is to try to win the SEC tournament. We're going to go in and try to win Friday night, and if we're fortunate enough to do that, get ready to play another game on Saturday and hopefully on Sunday."

Two ugly losses to sub-200 RPI teams South Carolina and Mississippi State is what's holding Ole Miss back, it seems, as well as only one top-50 RPI win on its tournament resume.

Put simply, it's not so much about the quantity of wins, as the quality. If Ole Miss were to draw Missouri in its opening game in Nashville on Friday, the Rebels would have the opportunity to notch a much-needed top-50 win. The teams split the regular season, each team winning at home.

Armstrong (left) and Kennedy
USA TODAY images

However if history is any indication, winning its 24th game could be all Ole Miss needs to break through.

Since the last major change in the RPI formula, which was first used for the 2005 NCAA tournament, no team with at least 24 wins from one of the big six conferences - ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac 10 and the SEC - has been left out of the Big Dance.

Ole Miss just has to win.

"Our team is excited and ready to get the SEC tournament underway on Friday," Armstrong said. "We're going to come into Friday to play one of three teams. I think we're ready to get after it."

The Rebels aren't at full strength, having lost four front-court players in Demarco Cox, Aaron Jones, Jason Carter and Anthony Perez at different point this season.

Cox and Jones are out for the season, while Carter was dismissed in December, despite having not played a game for Ole Miss. Perez hurt his knee in a win over Texas A&M two weeks ago. He missed the final three games of the regular season.

"It's still day-to-day with him, Armstrong said of the 6-foot-9, 205-pound Perez, a true freshman, who was averaging 7.2 minutes per game prior to injury. "Everything is about pain tolerance. I hope (he plays in the SEC tournament), but I have no way of knowing."

Armstrong said the team's practice routine with the lack of bodies "makes it a little bit difficult to practice." Ole Miss hasn't really had its routine over the last month, though the Rebels have come through with at least some of the depth they had.

"I think we'll just stay the course of the last month," Armstrong said.

OM Spirit Top Stories