Ole Miss Rebels
AP Rank: 24
As one of the three unbeaten teams left in college basketball, Chris Beard’s Rebels continue to be one of college basketball’s pleasant surprises, standing at a perfect 12-0 as January nears.
Despite an undefeated start and an AP ranking of 24th in the country, their metrics are far behind with their NET ranking at 56 and their KenPom ranking at 80th in the country.
The reason for their lower-rated metrics is not for the lack of quality wins despite a lower-rated NCOS. The Rebels have put together some quality wins in their non-conference slate, beating the red-hot Memphis Tigers -- a win that will continue to look great on their resume -- alongside NC State by 20 and two road wins over Temple and UCF (remember: road wins should never be taken for granted in college basketball).
The reason for their lower-rated metrics is due to the number of close wins against inferior opponents. In their first four games, it took a second-half spurt to beat Alabama State and Eastern Washington while scraping by the skin of their teeth against winless Detroit Mercy with a one-point win followed by a three-point win over Sam Houston State.
Not exactly the recipe for how you get your metrics to rise.
Although it should be noted that both two-time transfers Brandon Murray and Moussa Cisse were “ineligible” at that time, the metrics will not take into account that -- another reason for why their numbers are so low.
Overall, the Rebels have gotten really elite play from Auburn transfer Allen Flanigan (16.4 Pts, 7.3 Reb, 3.3 Ast), Matthew Murell (16.9 Pts, 4.3 Reb, 3.2 Ast) and Saint Peter’s transfer Jaylen “Juju” Murray (15.3 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 3.8 Ast), who has solved the Rebel’s PG question marks entering the season. Jaeymn Brakefield (10.3 Pts, 5.9 Reb, 2.1 Ast) has turned it on as of late as well, averaging 19.6 PPG over the past three games.
Ole Miss has had the basketball gods on their side in the non-conference portion of the season and there is no reason to think they can continue their momentum in SEC play.
Although the Rebels will have work to do in the SEC and might go through some rough(er) stretches, standing at 12-0 is exactly where you want to be as conference play quickly approaches.