The Rebels did just enough in Year 1 under Kermit Davis to get into the dance while the Sooners were able to mitigate their conference struggles with a strong non-conference resume.
That being said, both teams are entering the tournament struggling. Ole Miss has lost four of its last five while Oklahoma has dropped three of its last five games.
Date/Time: Friday, March 22, 12:40 p.m. ET
kenpom.com projections: Oklahoma def. Ole Miss 72-71
Betting Line: Ole Miss -1 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
No. 8 seed Ole Miss
Coach: Kermit Davis
Record: 20-12 (10-8)
Conference tournament finish: Lost in Second Round
Player to Watch: Breein Tyree
The Rebels enter the tournament on a skid, but they have been strong offensively this season. Ole Miss is 32nd in offensive efficiency according to kenpom.com.
Three rotation players shoot better than 36 percent from deep, but Tyree is the focal point. He’s averaging 18.1 points per game and needs to go off for the Rebels to make a run in the tournament.
Ole Miss won its first three conference games, but went 7-8 in the SEC the rest of the way. The Rebels beat tournament-bound Baylor in the non-conference slate, but don’t have much else on their resume.
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No. 9 seed Oklahoma
Coach: Lon Kruger
Record: 19-13 (7-11)
Conference tournament finish: Lost in First Round
Player to Watch: Kristian Doolittle
The Sooners started off the season 11-1 only to jump off the deep end in Big 12 play. They were 3-9 in conference play at one point before realizing the season was on the line.
Christian James is the team’s leading scorer, but Doolittle has been hot of late. He’s averaging 17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in the last seven contests and has carried the Sooners offensively. If he keeps this up, Oklahoma will be able to find more space for shooters to operate.
Oklahoma ranks 23rd in the country in defensive efficiency according to kenpom.com, so this is a good battle of two teams playing to their respective strengths. Doolittle’s production might be the difference in a close contest.
The Sooners have a win over Wofford in the non-conference slate and lost a tough contest to Wisconsin. They also beat Creighton, a team that just missed the dance. Oklahoma has experience with eight seniors, which could help them make an extended run in March.