Location: Oxford, MS
Last Year’s Record: 16-15
Why they’ll make it: Last season, Ole Miss lost two of its top players early on with season-ending injuries. Chris Warren and Eniel Polynice are back and have had plenty of time to recover. Those two, along with highly touted freshman, Reginald Buckner, will provide a much needed boost for a program that’s moving in the right direction. In addition to that trio, the Rebels also return Zach Graham, Murphy Holloway, and Terrico White to help strengthen a solid nucleus. Coach Andy Kennedy’s team may not be able to challenge its cross-state rival in Starkville for the SEC West title, but Ole Miss will certainly be in the mix for an at-large berth.
Why they won’t make it: Unfortunately for the Rebels, the SEC West isn’t as strong as the SEC East so storing their nuts early on may be the route to take. They’re playing in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off, a field includes Dayton, Villanova, and Kansas State. They’ll need to perform well there and maybe even upset West Virginia in December to feel comfortable about their at-large chances. There aren’t many marquee games on the their schedule, especially after they enter conference play. For that reason, it is imperative for the Rebels to do well in the non-conference portion of their schedule.