Holding Pattern

Ole Miss may have very well ended its season with a 75-73 loss to Georgia in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament on Friday. The Rebels will find out today.

Entering the game, they were squarely on the National Invitation Tournament bubble. BracketMatrix.com had Ole Miss out of the 32-team field. NYCBuckets.com, the only other site that regularly updates NIT bracketology, has four SEC teams in, but Ole Miss isn't one of them.

The NIT Selection Show will immediately follow the unveiling of the NCAA tournament field at 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

"I think there's a chance. It used to be at 19-13, 9-9 in the SEC, you're a cinch to make the NCAA tournament. Those days are over," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy, whose team finished 19-14 overall, said following the loss to Georgia.

"Will they take five teams from the SEC to the NIT? Probably not. And I like the format of the NIT over awarding regular season champion of low leagues. That's a great move, but obviously it eats up slots. There's not nearly as many at-larges, and will they go deep enough based on numbers? I don't know that. We'll find out Sunday."

With the loss to Georgia, Ole Miss fell a win short of 20 for just the second time in eight seasons under Kennedy. The program had seven 20-win seasons in its previous 96 prior to his arrival in 2006-07.

Andy Kennedy
File Photo

Should Ole Miss miss out on the NIT, it would be just the second time in Kennedy's tenure that the Rebels failed to reached the postseason, the other being in 2008-09, when a rash of injuries derailed their season.

Ole Miss has played in the NIT five of the last seven season, twice reaching the NIT Final Four. The Rebels were an NCAA tournament participant a year ago.

"I know we all have to apologize for going to the NIT, which is ridiculous, but it's the name of the game. (The NCAA tournament) is the end all, be all. It's certainly the goal," Kennedy said.

"But to have to apologize to play in that league is really ridiculous when 70 percent of football teams, you don't even have to go .500 against Division-I and you get a bowl game and it's celebrated. There's a parade. Yet if you finish in the top 30 percent in basketball, you're almost apologetic. I would love the opportunity to play in the NIT if indeed we're deemed worthy."

If nothing else, an NIT berth would afford lone senior Marshall Henderson an opportunity to wrap up his Ole Miss career on a better note. Henderson struggled in his last three games, shooting 17 of 61 from the field, good for 27.9 percent, and 11 of 48 from 3, a shade under 23 percent.

He scored 19 points on 5 of 21 shooting, including 2 of 16 from 3, against Georgia.

"I think Marshall would want to go out on a different note," Kennedy said. "I know that he would be excited to play. Jarvis Summers, if I asked him to, would go out and play again tonight. He's going to do whatever you ask him to do. We've got a young, young front line. Every rep that we can get Dwight Coleby, Sebastian Saiz, Anthony Perez, that would be an added bonus."

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