SEC tourney run puts Rebels in mix for national seed

Published 6:01 am Sunday, May 29, 2016

HOOVER, Ala. — Before the Southeastern Conference tournament started, it was a long shot that Ole Miss would even be in consideration for one of the top eight national seeds of the NCAA baseball tournament that begins Friday.

The Rebels had a decent resume, but there were so many teams in the hunt for the couple spots that they would need to make a splash and get some attention on themselves from the 10-person selection committee in Indianapolis.

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They did just that, rattling off three straight wins against Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt to find their way into the semifinal round Saturday.

The wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt were huge in part as Ole Miss is competing with them for one of the final national seeds. A win over Texas A&M would have done nothing but help their case, but they will now have to rely on what they were able to accomplish in the regular season and during their week-long stay in Hoover.

With more than 40 wins, the Rebels are a lock for a regional hosting selection, which will be announced tonight. The rest of the puzzle will be figured out Monday when the rest of the tournament field is announced.

Ole Miss (43-17) is sitting fifth in the RPI rankings with a non-conference record of 22-3 and a record of 10-11 against teams ranked 1-25 in the RPI.

“It matters for everybody,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said of a national seed, which would allow the Rebels to also host a super regional should they get that far. “You play at home, you have a better shot. … We’re not one of the 10 people in Indianapolis, but what would be a shame is if they don’t pick the 16 sites and the eight national seeds on the merit. I think on paper our resume is really good, and if you didn’t put a name on it or what league and you just look at the numbers, you might get five (SEC teams) in.”

Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Florida are already locks for a national seed, and many national pundits view it down to South Carolina, LSU and Ole Miss for another. With the Gamecocks going 0-2 in the tournament and Ole Miss not making the championship game, it will be interesting on Memorial Day how things shake out.