Questions as Rebels head to Hoover

Courtesy of the Rebels' extra inning victory over Kentucky Saturday, Ole Miss has earned the No. 8 seed in the SEC Tournament and will face No. 1 seed Georgia at 5 p.m. Wednesday inside Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. On Thursday, Ole Miss will be pitted against Kentucky or Alabama.

Here are three questions I see as important heading into postseason play. We don't yet have the answers, but these things are something to remember and consider as the week progresses.

Are the Rebels a lock for the NCAA Tournament?

Usually an invitation to the SEC Tournament is enough to lock up an NCAA bid, but Ole Miss remains in a precarious situation heading to Hoover. The Rebels possess an RPI of 42 and are only 4-6 in conference series. Meanwhile, Arkansas didn't qualify for the league tournament, but the Hogs hold a 27th-ranked RPI, one spot ahead of Vanderbilt. With the SEC being the fourth-best conference this season, it will be tough to justify getting nine teams in the tournament. Alabama is also on shaky ground, and Ole Miss could make it ahead of the Tide. Alabama is 31-24 overall and has an RPI of 47. However, the Crimson Tide finished with 16 SEC wins and took two-of-three from Ole Miss. If the Rebels and Alabama fall in their respective first round games, Thursday could be an elimination game for the NCAAs. In 2006, LSU advanced to Hoover but was snubbed by the tournament committee in favor of a Mississippi State team that didn't qualify for the SECs. The conference placed only five teams in the NCAA Tournament last season.

Will Lance Lynn be available on Wednesday

Lynn left Thursday's game against Kentucky with a leg injury and is scheduled to have a MRI on Monday. The ailment is to Lynn's non-plant leg, so I have been told that he is probable for the opening-round game. If for some reason Lynn couldn't go, then you may see someone like Brett Bukvich get the nod. Pitchers are already losing a day of rest this week, therefore it is unlikely that Drew Pomeranz could move up a second day to replace Lynn.

When can Scott Bittle throw again?

Bittle put the Rebels on his back and earned the SEC Tournament berth Saturday with an electric outing of more than 100 pitches. Due to the high pitch count, the right-hander is likely unavailable Wednesday. One would think Bittle could return Thursday in limited work. With the team's best pitcher needing rest, it puts more pressure on Lynn, or a replacement, to work deep in Wednesday's contest. Also, with the struggles of Cody Satterwhite and Pomeranz, is the bullpen really the place for Bittle in the first place. Could Satterwhite be productive out of the pen? By the way, Ole Miss hasn't lost a first round game at the SEC Tournament since a 7-6, 10-inning defeat by South Carolina in 2004.

First round games

10 a.m. No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 South Carolina

1 p.m. No. 3 Florida vs. No. 6 Vanderbilt

5 p.m. No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 8 Ole Miss

8 p.m. No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Kentucky

Extra Innings

The eight seed has defeated the top seed the past two seasons; LSU over Alabama in 2006, Tennessee over Vanderbilt in 2007.

This will be the first meeting between Ole Miss and Georgia in SEC Tournament play.

Beginning with the 2005 Tournament, Ole Miss is 10-4 in Hoover (4-2 in 2005, 4-0 in 2006, 2-2 in 2007).

Georgia compiled a 3-2 record in the 2006 Tournament, good enough to finish tied for the third. The Bulldogs didn't participate in the 2005 or 2007 tournaments. Georgia hasn't appeared in an SEC Tournament championship game since the league switched back to an eight-team format. From 1993 to 1995 there were separate tournaments for the Eastern and Western divisions. The Bulldogs fell to Auburn in the 1989 SEC tournaments finals.

Ole Miss is 23-23 all-time in the SEC Tournament in 13 appearances. Georgia is 23-32 in 16 appearances.

OM Spirit Top Stories