Ole Miss must prove to committee they deserve Oxford regional
After sweeping Texas A&M earlier this month, Ole Miss baseball appeared to have turned a corner.
Then things turned negative yet again when they were swept at home by Mississippi State.
If the Rebel baseball team was walking gingerly following last weekend’s game with the Bulldogs, it was a full-on limp by the time they arrived in Knoxville on Thursday.
The Rebels hadn’t lost more than two games in a row before last weekend’s series with the Bulldogs. But after losing to Arkansas State on Tuesday, Ole Miss had lost four games in a row leading into their opener Thursday night against Tennessee. With just one more weekend left before the SEC Tournament opens play, Ole Miss’ odds at hosting a regional are looking mighty slim.
Despite being unranked both by D1Baseball and Baseball America, Tennessee is the No. 10 team in the nation by RPI. Three wins against a top-10 RPI team would be huge for Ole Miss.
Regardless of what happens this weekend against the Vols, it’s going to be hard for Ole Miss to recover from their losses on the season. While Tennessee is unranked but holds an RPI of 10, Ole Miss is ranked No. 15 by D1Baseball. Their RPI after Tuesday’s loss is 29.
The Rebels have experienced some highs this year – think the sweeps of then-No. 6 Texas A&M and then-No. 16 Florida. That being said, they’ve seen lows, too. Sitting at 32-21 on the year, Ole Miss is tied third in the SEC West at 15-12.
Ole Miss has lost four games to teams outside the top-75 in RPI. They’ve lost two games – Arkansas State (138) and North Alabama (243) – to teams ranked outside the top-100 in RPI. Just 16 teams will earn a national seed when the NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed in less than 10 days. Those numbers, both good and bad, are going to be something the committee weighs very heavily when deciding if Ole Miss will be one of the 16.
Going into Mississippi State week, the message from players and coaches about the rankings and projections was simple. They’re aware of the numbers, but they can only control so much.
“We know if we take care of what we can take care of, we’re a good enough team to be able to (host),” said junior Thomas Dillard.
Since that day, the Rebels have lost four straight games. A sweep of Tennessee and a deep SEC Tournament run is theoretically in play, but right now it’s an Ole Miss unit that needs to win games to prove to the committee they deserve a regional.
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