Ole Miss Basketball: Grove Grinder, Rivalries And The Numbers Game

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 23: Mississippi Rebels players celebrate by hoisting the Egg Bowl trophy after defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 31-28 in an NCAA football game at Davis Wade Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 23: Mississippi Rebels players celebrate by hoisting the Egg Bowl trophy after defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 31-28 in an NCAA football game at Davis Wade Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images) /

Ole Miss basketball is hosting State College this afternoon in Oxford. This Grove Grinder gives us a chance to look at the rivalry and a few numbers.

So Ole Miss basketball fans are looking forward to this afternoon when the Rebels welcome the Bulldogs to The Pavilion. I know I’m really looking forward to seeing this game. Yes, some of us have had this game marked on the calendar. This game is important for both teams, schools and fan-bases for a number of reasons.

Sure, the game is important because it is our in-state rival. However, for many die-hard Ole Miss and Miss State fans this game is almost like the Egg on hardwood. It’s simply an extension to the Egg Bowl rivalry itself.

I know when you think of the ‘Egg Bowl’ you immediately think of 31-28, 64-44 or Thanksgiving night. Seriously though, most people connect the Egg Bowl to the football game as they should. However the Egg Bowl rivalry has spilled over into every other sport the two schools play. I dare say there is a single fan of either school who won’t gloat when their team wins later this afternoon. It would be that way if it were a game of horseshoes.

That’s A Good Thing

Ole Miss Rebels Basketball
Ole Miss Rebels Basketball /

Ole Miss Rebels Basketball

A healthy rivalry can be a good thing. We see rivalry from the time we are young enough to compete at anything. By the time we are adults you would think most of us could deal with the idea of competition and victory and defeat.

At this point in the Egg Bowl rivalry, after 108 meetings, you’d think somebody would have gotten the message by now. Hello, State College? However, neither side is willing to concede an inch in a 100 yard fight. Of course, today it will be a 94′ fight. Anyway, that’s why they call it rivalry.

This afternoon somebody has to win just like somebody has to lose. It’s just a part of the rivalry and life centered around it. If you love Ole Miss you want to see State College falter and if you love a mutt then you want to see the Rebels fail. Of course being a die-hard Rebel I hope for the fore mentioned.

Of course, this season it really isn’t just because  of their being a rivalry. Sure there is the element of hatred we have for State College which figures into it. But this season is different. MSU basketball is battling something far worse than Ole Miss or even a FBI investigation. Mutts everywhere are in turmoil for they have to fight a fight they’ve seldom won. It’s called numbers.

The Numbers Never Lie?

Y’all who know me also know I’m a huge numbers guy but I have a question. Do numbers ever lie? Yes sometimes they do. In recent years it has been scientifically acknowledged there is something called a cupcake factor. Basically, the cupcake factor is the weak link in  your season. We’ve long called it the cupcake factor. However, today they call it RPI and SOS.

RPI means Rating Percentage Index and SOS means Strength of Schedule. This includes numbers so the mutts on the page may want to quit reading now. We know how y’all have a difficult time with numbers like 64-44 or 31-28. At any rate the RPI is a sports ranking quantity which allows us to evaluate each team based on current wins/losses and strength of schedule.

In this case let’s just say Ole Miss and State College, let’s just say. Miss State has a RPI of 53. Of course, considering the number of schools who are engaged in D1 college basketball this is good. When you take the 13-1 record a 53 RPI is really good. I’d say it’s considered above average. So now let’s add the cupcake factor or SOS. Miss State has a SOS of 243. It’s literally one of the worst in the nation.

RPIs Mean Everything?

Because of the outstanding 13-1 record MSU has coming into this season there have actually been Mutts getting just a little over-zealous. Can you even begin to imagine that? Remember that little thing called RPI? The same argument they used to brag about how their football team was going to win the natty in Dak’s junior season has somehow failed the college basketball world.

For you rocket scientists who depend on numbers and statistics everyday, I have some numbers for you. According to RealTimeRPI.com, Miss State has a 13-1 record and a RPI of 53 with a SOS of 243. Ole Miss has a 8-6 record with a RPI of 151 and a SOS of 98. When you look at the numbers its easy to see who has the higher of the two on RPI and SOS.

Obviously Miss State has the higher RPI because of the number of wins they have compared to losses. So could somebody please tell me why they have a 13-1 record? Oh wait it’s because they haven’t played anybody other than Arkansas. Of course, I believe they got lucky in that game.

Looking Back

I can remember a conversation with a Mutt friend one afternoon about RPI. At that time MSU was ranked No.1 in the country in football led by a great quarterback named Dak. Undefeated and still having to face Alabama they had one of the highest RPIs in the nation. My friend thought RPI and SOS meant everything. Of course, that team wound up losing two games that season to the two best teams on their schedule. Their high RPI was literally destroyed by the ‘actual strength’ of their schedule.

Of course, my mutt friend believes RPI means something and SOS means nothing. “It’s basketball” he says, “one team is just as good as the other.” Like all mutts he is something special. They really believe the Rebels are an automatic win. Because RPI means something and the higher SOS of Ole Miss means nothing they believe it’s a gimme game.

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Ole Miss basketball has played some very good teams and beaten them. Today will be no different for me as a Ole Miss basketball fan. I believe Ole Miss can win, should win and will win today. Of course, if the Rebels don’t win, it’s all good. At least we still have the mutts and the rivalry. Good luck to the Rebels today as they face State College in Oxford at The Pavilion. Hotty Toddy!