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No. 8 Ole Miss Will Need Strong Defensive Effort To Top No. 9 Oklahoma

The No. 8 seed and No. 9 seed matchups in the first round of the NCAA tourney are usually fairly even and that is exactly the case with the Oklahoma Sooners facing the Ole Miss Rebels. The Sooners and Rebels both fell short in their conference tournaments and have double-digit loss totals on the season.

The Rebels opened as 1.5-point favorites with a total of 142.5.

Oklahoma vs Mississippi Game Center

STANDOUT STATS

  • Oklahoma is 3-2 SU and ATS in five games on a neutral court. Those three wins were against Florida, Dayton and Notre Dame, with the two losses coming to West Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • Oklahoma has had the most success when playing a defensive style of game as they rank 78th in points allowed per game (68.2) while holding teams to 40.2 percent from the field (rated 23rd) and 33.3 percent from behind the arc (rated 89th).
  • Rebounding could be key in separating these two teams and Oklahoma owns the edge in that category. They average 37.6 rebounds per game (ranked 50th) compared to Mississippi at 34.3 per game (ranked 218th).
  • Mississippi’s defense has been a question mark all season as it ranks 142nd overall in points allowed per game (70.4) and allows opponents to shoot 37.2 percent (rated 312th) from behind the arc on 19.7 attempts per game (rated 54th).
  • Mississippi is limping into the NCAA Tournament having lost five of its last seven games, with three of those losses as the favorite. The Rebels were knocked out of the SEC tournament by Alabama, which was not selected for the NCAA tourney.
  • The total has gone UNDER in eight of Mississippi’s last 11 games (avg. combined score: 139.82).

My Best Bet for Oklahoma vs Ole Miss

Oklahoma +1.5

When initially seeing this line, I thought it was a mistake as I figured the Sooners would be favored. Diving into the numbers for both teams, I still think it’s a mistake. Mississippi really has only two signature wins this year, both against Auburn, and lost in the opening round of the tournament to Alabama. That is not a resume that inspires confidence in an SEC team that already plays in a weaker conference of the Power 5.

As for Oklahoma, I like the defensive intensity the Sooners have put forth all season and, playing in the Big 12, they face much tougher opponents than Ole Miss saw during conference play. The Sooners have at least beaten Florida (a team Ole Miss lost to), Texas and Kansas this year and defend the three-point line well enough that Ole Miss could have trouble scoring. Usually, these 8-9 games feel like coin flips but I’ll side with the better defensive team with the better resume.

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