NCAA tournament team previews: Ole Miss Rebels
As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 20-12 (11-8 SEC)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 112.9 (22nd)/100.1 (124th)
Seed: First Four
Impact Player: Stefan Moody, junior, guard. 16.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 130.4 offensive rating
The Case For: The Rebels didn't make things easy on themselves, losing in their first game of the SEC tournament lowly South Carolina. But they're in the field and present a challenge for teams simply because of their guard play. Moody and Jarvis Summers are terrific at getting into open space and creating space for the shot. The pair have combined to score almost 40% of the team's 2,324 points this season, so you know where the ball is going to go in a pressure situation.
And Ole Miss has a serious advantage in a close game late with the lead because of Moody. He's shooting 90.1% from the free-throw line, making 146 of his 162 attempts. That's a great weapon to have in the NCAA tournament, where games are won and lost at the charity stripe.
The Case Against: Uh ... did we mention the loss to South Carolina in the SEC tournament? That was a bad, bad loss at a time where Ole Miss needed to flex its muscle as the better team and make a statement. It made the field anyway, but the result doesn't inspire a ton of confidence. Neither does the closing stretch of Ole Miss' season: Since Valentine's Day, the Rebels are 3-5, with losses to a middle-of-the-road team (Vanderbilt) and a bottom-quarter one (South Carolina).
But even the defeats to Georgia and LSU aren't considered acceptable losses because this is a conference that has been—save for Kentucky—marginal. Ole Miss could've easily taken its fate out of the hands of the committee by winning. Instead, it was gifted a bid and will limp into the dance.
SI Prediction: Beat BYU in the First Four, beat Xavier in the Round of 64, lose to Baylor in the Round of 32