While Ole Miss basketball missed out on an opportunity to go to the Big Dance, they will be playing in the NIT. Having received a number 5-seed, the Rebels will travel to New Jersey on Tuesday to take on Monmouth, the back to back MAAC regular season champions.
Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss Rebels Excited About NIT
When the Rebels’ stay at the SEC Tournament ended on Friday, hope for an NCAA Tournament Bid was lost. It was fitting that, in a season full of close calls, the Rebels’ tournament hopes were dashed in a 73-72 thriller. We didn’t leave Nashville without getting an all-timer out of Andy Kennedy in his halftime interview with the SEC Network’s Laura Rutledge.
However, Andy Kennedy and the team turned their attention to the NIT and seemed eager to continue their season. For example, when asked about playing in the NIT, Terence Davis said, “[g]etting to play in the postseason is a big accomplishment for us.”
Andy Kennedy took things a step further and even managed to take a shot at our in-state counterparts who will not be playing postseason basketball. Mississippi State has not played postseason basketball since losing in the First Round of the 2012 NIT. After the Arkansas loss, Kennedy had the following to say about playing in the NIT:
“There’s 351 Division I basketball teams. Sixty-eight go to the NCAA. Thirty-two go to the NIT. That’s 100 out of 351. My math’s not great, but that tells me you finished in the top half of college basketball. It’s not easy. Since I’ve been following it, growing up in SEC country, I’ve never seen a football team turn down a bowl. I’ve never seen it. There’s so many bowls, they’re looking for teams to fill ’em. We had one pretty close to our situation that gets in at 5-7.”
Damn, that’s cold AK.
Looking Ahead To The Game At Monmouth
The Ole Miss Rebels and Monmouth look evenly-matched. For example, per KenPom‘s ratings, the Rebels and Hawks are 77th and 79th in the country in overall efficiency.
Monmouth originally gained notoriety a year ago for their outrageous bench celebrations.
The Hawks can play basketball pretty well, too. For a second-straight season, they were denied a trip to the NCAA Tournament after being upset in the conference tournament. This year, they dropped a close one to Siena, but came into that game having won 17-straight.
The Rebels will have their hands full in New Jersey Tuesday night. Win or lose, it could be worse. We could be sitting at home in Starkville.