Teams: Syracuse Orange (19-14, 10-8) vs. Ole Miss Rebels (21-13, 10-8)
Day & Time: Saturday, March 18, 11 a.m. ET
Venue: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Line: N/A (just yet)
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Ole Miss Blog: Red Cup Rebellion
Rivalry: 0-0; one of a handful of major teams we’ve never played
Current Streak: N/A
First Meeting: Ole Miss and Syracuse could’ve conceivably faced off a number of times in the last several decades. Both teams were in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, and same goes for 2001, 1999 and 1998.
Last Meeting: In imaginary 2013, Ole Miss not only upsets Wisconsin in the first round (which happened in real life), but they also get past LaSalle (who they lost to by two). Wichita State can’t deal with the land shark, and neither can Ohio State in the Elite 8. The Rebels stun Louisville in the Final Four, and Syracuse doesn’t get victimized by bogus officiating, beating Michigan. Here, the fictional Orange beat Ole Miss in the title game, which we still talk about to this day.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (41st Year, 1,004-356); Ole Miss: Andy Kennedy (11th Year, 233-138)
Head Coach Bio: Kennedy was a Parade Magazine (yes, really) All-American in Mississippi before heading to NC State. He got sick and tired of Raleigh, so he finished up his career at UAB, where he was all-conference a couple times and set a bunch of records (some of which still stand).
As a post-graduate player, he sat around on the bench for the Charlotte Hornets, but once again got sick of the state of North Carolina. He went to Europe for a bit, then came back to the U.S. to coach as an assistant at South Alabama in 1994. Just a year later, he was back at his alma mater, for several years, before moving up to Cincinnati in 2001.
Kennedy lucked into the head coaching gig with the Bearcats in 2005 when Bob Huggins resigned. After one season as interim coach, he was hired at Ole Miss. He’s been there ever since.
Last Year: Ole Miss went 20-12, and despite finishing with the same 10-8 SEC mark they did this year, they were not invited to the postseason. Still, it was the eighth time Kennedy has hit the 20-win mark since he arrived in Oxford. He’s only the fourth Rebels coach to hit the 20-win mark at all, and the only one to do it more than three times.
Last Game: Monmouth never really knew what him them in the first round of the NIT. The first half looked pretty even and the Hawks had a lead. Then the second half was a flurry of made baskets for Deandre Burnett, the team ended up hitting ALL of the foul shots (pretty much) and the Rebels won by eight.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Probably Sebastian Saiz. The 6-foot-9 senior averaged 15 points and 11 boards per game this year, and as you might have guessed, racks up a double-double nearly every night. He hits free throws pretty well (74.2 percent), and even hit some threes this season. Given the fact that Ole Miss is a decent rebounding team overall, this should concern you quite a bit.
If Syracuse Wins: We’re playing either Georgia Tech or Belmont for a trip to the NIT Final Four. “Yay?”
If Syracuse Loses: At first, we’ll be bummed. Then we’ll probably just say “WAYLP” and get on with watching the women’s team against Iowa State.
Fun Fact No. 1: Ole Miss has only made the NCAA Tournament eight times in its history. The first trip wasn’t until 1981. This would be more stunning if not for Northwestern only making their first tourney run ever this season.
Fun Fact No. 2: Despite Kennedy only coaching at Cincinnati for one season, he’s faced Syracuse three separate times. He went 1-2, but the Bearcats loss you’ll definitely remember is the Big East Tournament matchup when Gerry McNamara hit a game-winning three, setting off the chain of events that led to a stunning Big East Tournament championship.