Ole Miss gets bid to Los Angeles regional
Published 10:25 am Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Ole Miss is going Hollywood.
The Rebels earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, and will head to sunny Los Angeles to play in a regional hosted by No. 1 national seed UCLA beginning on Friday.
Ole Miss will face Maryland on Friday at 6 p.m., while UCLA takes on Cal State-Bakersfield in the late game.
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“Obviously, it’s tough going to play the number one overall seed,” Ole Miss first baseman Sikes Orvis said during a press conference Monday following the reveal of the 64-team bracket. “But we’ve played the toughest schedule in the country, been playing the toughest teams in the country all year in the toughest conference in the country. So I’ll take us against anybody.”
Ole Miss (30-26) won six of its last seven games to finish the regular season, but lost to Alabama in its opener in the Southeastern Conference Tournament last week. It will have been 10 days between games when they face Maryland (39-21).
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said the Rebels have stayed busy during their down time.
“One of the things we’ve done this week is get back to the fundamentals. We gave them a day off when we got back, and since then we’ve been on the field every single day,” Bianco said in an interview with the SEC Network. “The guys have had great energy. One of the things this team has done all year long is really practice well and play with great confidence.”
The Rebels, like Maryland, were an at-large selection to the tournament. Ole Miss was No. 27 in the NCAA’s last Ratings Percentage Index rankings — the formula used to pick and seed teams for the tournament — and were No. 1 in strength of schedule.
A five-game winning streak during the Rebels’ late surge was the only time this season they won more than three in a row. Bianco said that inconsistency was the difficult schedule rearing its head.
“During the year, it can be brutal at times. It almost seems like you don’t get a breather,” Bianco said. “Our guys have handled it. One of the reasons I think we’ve been inconsistent is not necessarily our play, but the teams we’ve played.”
Maryland’s strength of schedule was ranked 90th in the country, and its RPI was No. 44, but it seemed to have played its way into the tournament last week.
The Terrapins reached the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament before losing to Michigan. According to the NCAA selection committee, Maryland was one of the last four at-large picks.
“We had an up and down year. We weren’t a two seed. So when you’re a three seed, you’re at the mercy of the committee,” Maryland coach John Szefc said in a release. “There weren’t many East Coast regionals this year so the chance of having to go out west was a good chance. We want to be playing next week and that’s what we’re doing.”