ESPN.com has one of those way too early Bracketology projections out this week (behind the Insider paywall) and one of the things that caught my eye is that Ole Miss would be, wait for it, among the “Last Four Out” of the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball tournament field.
Five SEC teams would make the cut: Kentucky (1 seed), Florida (3 seed), Missouri (6 seed), Tennessee (10 seed) and Alabama (11 seed).
That would be a poor overall effort by a newly expanded SEC, by the way, but it mainly makes me wonder if Andy Kennedy will survive another season at Ole Miss without making the Big Dance. If the Rebels don’t make the field next season, that would be seven years in a row under Kennedy – his entire tenure – without an NCAA trip.
A program planning to build a new facility wants to go there on a high note. Coaches whose teams are underachieving when the program is about to move into a new gym sometimes find the team moving in without them.
Kennedy shared a couple of SEC West titles (2007, 2010) before those were done away with, but it’s the total losses – double figures in each of his first six seasons – that have weighed again his team getting into the field. In that time, I don’t think Ole Miss was done any great injustice in not making the field – nothing on the order of Mississippi State’s egregious snub in 2010, at least.
I have said this before on radio appearances but I’m not sure I have written it down – a baskteball program in one of the “Big Six” conferences with any pretense to being competitive should able to make the field at least once every four years. More than that would be great, certainly, but a coach should be able to build and refill his roster to reach that point with some regularity.
If Kennedy had a 2010 trip to the NCAAs on his resume, say, the conversation heading into next season would be perhaps not as urgent but still essentially the same – largely because of that new gym and the need to generate some sizzle for it.