Well, Andy Kennedy, you better go buy a pair of dancing shoes.
Although it won’t become official until tomorrow, Kennedy’s Ole Miss squad likely locked up a berth in the 2013 NCAA tournament this afternoon with a 64-52 victory over Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament semi-finals.
The Rebels trailed throughout the first half but managed to tie the game up at the half after Marshall Henderson was able to knock down a few shots before intermission.
That gave Ole Miss momentum coming out of the break, and despite being horrendous from the free throw line (16-for-32), they were able to hang on for the victory.
And with that victory, an NCAA tournament appearance should be locked up. Should be. If it does happen, it’ll be the first time Kennedy has led a team to the tournament as a head coach. It’s been a long time coming.
Heading into the SEC tournament, Ole Miss was clearly on the bubble. They were the same situation as fellow SEC members Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Tennessee lost to Bama, Kentucky lost to Vandy, and Bama lost to Florida in today’s other semifinal. Kennedy’s team separated themselves from the pack, and have survived to advance to tomorrow’s championship game against the Gators.
The argument against Ole Miss has been their number of quality wins.
Their two best wins this season both came against Missouri. The Tigers are a lock for the big dance, so that helps them. They also beat Tennessee twice, who many believe slid to the wrong side of the bubble after losing to Alabama on Friday. Ole Miss has had a few bad losses late in the season (South Carolina and Mississippi State), but that’s not enough for me to discount their entire body of work.
They’re a 25-win team. It’s hard to believe that a team that’s won 25 games in a power conference wouldn’t get in, no matter how underwhelming the conference has been as a whole this season. And it doesn’t hurt that they’ve won seven of their last nine.
Of course, Henderson and company can erase all their worries tomorrow afternoon by beating Florida and winning the SEC tournament crown for the first time since 1981.
Should that occur, the entire world better prepare themselves for the Marshall Henderson experience. It’s truly unlike anything else in college basketball.
To say the least.