You know what? There’s something quite enjoyable about this 11th seed play-in game format. It has been argued that it makes Selection Sunday even more difficult to work out and can dilute the field, but it also extends the meaningful NCAA tournament action. Case in point is this game between the BYU Cougars and Mississippi Rebels.
Both teams did their best to not be included in the tournament field, and each has been given “one more chance” to break into the final 64. Both teams have the potential to cause an upset or two if they do break past this play-in game.
How good are BYU? It’s not a simple question. This team looked positively finished in terms of earning an NCAA tournament berth until beating the Gonzaga Bulldogs 73-70 on Feb 28. That changed everything and it can only be a good thing for the tournament.
The Cougars have an exciting offense. Guard Tyler Haws leads the way averaging 21.3 points per game and he is ably supported by Kyle Collinsworth (14.0 PPG), Anson Winder (13.1 PPG) and Chase Fischer (12.9 PPG). The Cougars play small (all four of the names above are experienced guards) and pay for that on the defensive end of the floor. However, they can shoot the three-point shot and are loaded with talent.
Ole Miss are in some minds a team undeserving of its selection. They managed only an 11-7 record in a so-so SEC. They also slumped into the postseason losing four of their last five including an unflattering conference tournament defeat to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Rebels will need to sharpen up defending the long-distance shot to enjoy success in this game. They’ve been vulnerable of late and can’t afford for that to carry over against the Cougars.
They’re quite guard heavy as well led by a trio of experienced back-court players in Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and Ladarius White. Moody is the player with game-breaking potential. He’s averaging 16.9 points per game on the season
Betting Preview: BYU (-4) v Ole Miss
This is a guard-heavy matchup (which is what makes both teams potentially dangerous in the next round or two). Expect an open affair, but ultimately this is a friendly opponent for BYU. They’re playing a team without a strong front court, one that doesn’t defend the three-point shot all that well and ultimately one that hasn’t played good basketball over the last month.
The Pick: BYU (-4) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 34-26