Play In Game
March Madness is finally here, not without plenty of complaints about some of the committee’s decisions, but none of that matters now. BYU takes on Ole Miss in the first of the 11-seed, play-in Games.
BYU made the Tournament because of one reason, they won at Gonzaga. That alone is an impressive feat considering the Zags never lose at home. The Cougars finished with five losses in the mediocre West Coast Conference, but challenged themselves in non-Conference play, beating teams like Stanford and UMass, while also competing with fellow Tourney teams San Diego State, Purdue and Utah. Getting swept by Pepperdine isn’t great, but they closed the season winning eight straight before losing in the title Game to Gonzaga.
The Rebels aren’t playing as well and kind of backed into the Tournament losing Four of their last five Games, including to lowly Vanderbilt and then South Carolina in the SEC Tourney. Neither of those can be confidence boosters, but this is a team that took Kentucky to overtime and dominated Arkansas, both on the road. When this team is clicking, they are really good, but they aren’t clicking at the moment.
BYU is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation and one of the most efficient. That will be the main problem for Ole Miss, a team that doesn’t shoot it well from the field. The Cougars rely on their backcOurt, mainly because they aren’t that big of a team. They have Four different guys that can shoot with range, with Tyler Haws (21.9 PPG) being the main scorer Ole Miss has to keep in check. However, Kyle Collinsworth (14 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 5.8 APG) is no slouch himself and is coming off a 28-point outing vs. Gonzaga.
The Rebels cannot be lazy on the defensive end because BYU will want to run and they more often than not find the open man. Ole Miss isn’t a great defensive team as it is so that will be an issue and because of that, the Rebels will need to Scoreplenty.
That’s not out of the question, but as said before, Ole Miss is really inconsistent. That starts with leading scorer and point guard, Stefan Moody (16.3 PPG). He closed the season shooting 6-of-30 and 2-of-14 from deep in the final two Games. If that happens again, it’s hard to see Ole Miss getting out of this Game. It’s not like he’s a great shooter in the first place, but that’s really bad, and Moody’s main threat is getting to the free-throw line. Jarvis Summers is in the same mold, only shooting 34.4% on the season as the team’s second-leading scorer.
If the Rebels continue to play the same as they’ve been in recent weeks, it’s unlikely they can pull out the win here. But on the other side of that, if they can put things together, there have been times where they scored a ton of points at good opponents (86 at Kentucky in OT and 96 at Arkansas). The efficiency of BYU will be a problem for the Rebs.
Our Pick – Ole Miss +3.5