In a whirlwind week of cold weather and hot Ole Miss basketball, the Rebels will be traveling northeast for a second time. The die has been cast, for what could be the best match-up of the entire NIT field.
As a result of a 90-77 win over UNC-Greensboro, #1 seeded Syracuse basketball will be hosting #5 Ole Miss basketball, Saturday with tip-off set for 10am CT. The winner of this contest could easily run the gauntlet, and find themselves in the championship game.
Ole Miss Basketball Heats Up
The Rebels (21-13) are coming off a huge travel win, in the NIT 1st round, over a Monmouth team which had come off an incredible season. Also, Monmouth was an incredible 24-3 at home over the last two seasons coming into the game. Ole Miss basketball made a statement by giving Monmouth number four.
It was a huge win in a tough environment which proves this Rebel team is well equipped to handle the road in this bracket. Of course, now we know we have no choice as we travel back to the snow covered northeast. In addition to the huge win over Monmouth, the initial postponement of the opener between Syracuse and UNCG gave Ole Miss and extra day for practice, travel, and mainly rest.
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Coach Jim Boeheim has bruised feelings, and has been noticeably frustrated with the NCAA selection committee over the past number of days. Actually, his frustration began about 361 days ago when his Orange were left out of the NCAA tourney selection.
They have something to prove and it was obvious last night as they hammered UNC Greensboro in front of a record low crowd of 4,288 attendees at the Carrier Dome. Apparently, snow hurts Oranges in the north too. However, the snow nor the record low attendence stopped the Orange in their NIT opener. Orange sensation Andrew White was, well sensational in the contest. Per Syracuse.com/OrangeBasketball, White was 11 of 15 from the field and scored 34 points.
The House Boeheim Built
At home in the Carrier Dome, The Cuse Orange have been rock solid, and on a court named after Boeheim himself. Yes, it’s called the Jim Boeheim Court, and it should be. Syracuse has drawn record crowds, numerous times, despite the weather keeping fans away last night.
Syracuse basketball has a very rich history under Coach Jim Boeheim. Of course, Boeheim being a former alumni and coach for over 40 years, one would expect a little history. He has amassed an overall record of 901-353 (.719) and put teams in 32 NCAA appearances, until this season. Coach Boeheim is not happy.
Rebels Must Squeeze Orange
Boeheim has been around basketball to know how to play a team like Ole Miss. However, this Ole Miss is different. It almost has a feel to the last team AK had who won the SEC Tourney. This one, minus Marshall Henderson of course.
The Rebels will have to depend on the same big inside play, along with excellent perimeter play to battle what Boeheim will bring. Saiz has to have a big game and can be expected to get another double/double. Also, Burnett and Tyree will have to pull great games.
Don’t be surprised to see Cuse go inside early and often in hopes of pushing the Rebel bench into the game early. Syracuse will play us on our strongest element and that is our physical toughness. This has a chance to be a very physical and high scoring affair. A shootout in the final seconds could easily be in play.
Of course, Syracuse (19-14) has home court advantage so that will surely be a factor. The nasty weather kept many fans away last night but that won’t be the case on Saturday morning. Orange fans love their Orange at home, and this season they are 17-3 at home, while giving up 11 losses away from The Carrier Dome.
The Rebels are no UNC Greensboro, and the Orange know Ole Miss basketball will be out for retribution against the NCAA as well. We know exactly how it is to be left out of the Big Dance, as Syracuse.com/OrangeBasketball notes, in their ‘Best Of/Worst Of’ write up.
The writer does give Ole Miss basketball proper credit. They point out Rebel hoops did finish tied for 5th in a very strong SEC conference, and here we both are. In my opinion, these are the two best teams in the entire NIT. Trust me Rebel fans, this is one you don’t want to miss!
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