The 12th-seeded Ole Miss Rebels will take on the fifth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The two teams will collide at the Spring Center in Kansas City, Mo. to determine which advances to the third round of the tournament.
Wisconsin, 23-11, is freshly removed from its 50-43 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game. The Badgers have not gone to the NCAA without at least some success in recent years, claiming at least one win every season since 2006.
Ole Miss, 26-8. is scorching after beating Florida in the SEC Championship game, 66-63. The win capped a 7-1 stretch by the Rebels leading up to the NCAA tournament. They have not made the tournament since 2002.
Where: Kansas City, Mo. at Spring Center
When: Friday, March 22 12:40 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Wisconsin -5.5, according to www.sportsbook.ag
*All injury information via USA Today.
Mississippi will be without forward Aaron Jones and center Demarco Cox. Jones is out for the season with a torn ACL and Cox is out indefinitely with an elbow injury
Guard Jarvis Summers has been out since the last game of the regular season with a concussion and is questionable for this game.
Wisconsin has no reported injuries.
What's at Stake
Wisconsin looks to continue its winning ways in the NCAA tournament. It has made it to the tournament every year since 1999 and won at least one game in 11 of those 14 trips.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, is in the tournament for the first time since 2002. The Rebels will look to take advantage of this long-awaited opportunity and advance to the third round.
What They're Saying
Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal mentions the much tougher road that the Badgers have crossed to get to this point.
Ole Miss played six games against three teams that finished in the top 50 of the RPI, going 3-3. The only RPI Top 25-team the Rebels played was Florida, earning a split in two games against the Gators.
The Sagarin and Pomeroy ratings tilt the scale even more toward UW in terms of playing a more difficult schedule than Ole Miss.
The Badgers played 19 games against nine teams in the top 50 of those ratings, going 9-10. Ole Miss went 3-3 against three teams in the top 50 of the Sagarin ratings and 3-4 against four teams in the top 50 of the Pomeroy ratings.
Louis Bien, of SB Nation, discusses the possibility of Ole Miss pulling off the upset.
Two of those CBS experts have Ole Miss and Marshall Henderson pulling off the first-round upset. It's easy to see the reasoning behind that pick, too. The history of the NCAA tournament and the history of the plucky underdog are one and the same, and few players have ever been pluckier than Henderson. But perhaps Gregg Doyel and Matt Norlander see what we've been bitching about all season, the propensity of this team to go freezing cold.
Of course, we've seen this team make shots, play lights-out defense and beat the best in the country, too. It's just the fall after the rise, perhaps the only consistent occurrence of anything this season for the Badgers, that has me worried beyond normal levels of Tourney Angst.
Most Important Player to Watch: Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson
The 6'2" junior guard had a spectacular season.
In his first season playing for Ole Miss since transferring there, Henderson led the SEC in scoring, with an average of 20.1 points per game. He was most effective from the free-throw line, where he shot 88.0 percent.
He was somewhat erratic with his shooting from the floor, knocking in shots at a 38.5-percent clip, but when he is hot he can score in bunches. He was a huge reason why the Rebels averaged 78.2 points per game, which ranked seventh best in the nation.
Key Matchup: Ole Miss Defense Against Wisconsin's Three-Point Shooters
The formula for stopping Wisconsin's offense has been stopping them from beyond the three-point line. In each of its last two losses, Wisconsin has shot under 18 percent from long distance, despite taking at least 18 such shots in each game.
The most dangerous three-point shooters the Badgers have are guard Ben Burst and forward Sam Dekker, who shoot 39.7 percent and 40.7 percent from three-point range, respectively. The pair combined for 314 attempted threes this season, so if Ole Miss forces those shots to be bad ones, it will work in the Rebels' favor.
Wisconsin's own great defense makes Ole Miss's limiting the three even more important. Only five times during the 2012-13 season did it allow its opponent to score more than 70 points. The most recent of these games came in a Feb. 6 contest against Iowa that went into double overtime.
The Rebels are unlikely to hit their usual average of 78 points per game. In order to beat the Badgers, they, too, will need to rely on defense.
Prediction: Ole Miss 60, Wisconsin 64
The Rebels will put up a great fight for most of the game, but in the end, they will be unable to get past the Big Ten runner-up. The Badgers will hit several key threes late in the game to send them on their way to the round of 32.
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