Although the Ole Miss basketball team gave a valiant effort in the SEC tournament this weekend, winning over South Carolina and losing a close game against runner-up LSU, the Rebels were not selected to dance in the NCAA Tournament for the 2020-2021 season.
On Thursday, Ole Miss faced the South Carolina Gamecocks and routed them, 76-59. The next day, the Rebels were in a must-win situation against the LSU Tigers, and the team put together about as great of a performance as it has throughout the entire season. Junior guard Jarkel Joiner led the team with 26 points and a monster 40-minute performance. Forward Romello White tailed right behind him with a double-double, putting up 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The team played well, with a stout defense that did not give up anything easily. The Rebels forced tough shots for the Tigers, but unfortunately, that is where LSU held the edge over the Rebels. The Tigers made some big shots from beyond the arc to scrape by Ole Miss, 76-43.
The Rebels have been in the bubble talk for the last couple of weeks. However, the team came up just shy and was listed fourth on the selection committee’s “First Four Out.”
The team had a strong resume. Finishing the season with an 8-3 record, the team was 3-0 against top-25 teams, with three quadrant one wins and four quadrant two wins. All-SEC guard Devontae Shuler led a team that had the best defense in the SEC conference, ranked No. 27 across the country and also No. 25 in steals. At the helm is head coach Kermit Davis, who has been dancing a total of six times during his coaching career, including big first-round upsets with his former teams coaching 15 and 12 seeds.
If four teams before the first tip are not able to play due to COVID-19, Ole Miss will get to play in March Madness as a replacement team. This is due to the unpredictability of the season, and it is a unique policy only in place for this year.
Still, the season isn’t over for good, yet. Ole Miss was selected as a No. 1 seed out of 16 other teams invited to play in the 83rd annual National Invitation Tournament (NIT) this year. All of the tournament games this year will be held in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Ole Miss will start its own dancing against Louisiana Tech on Friday, March 19 at 8 p.m..