BASEBALL: Host status on the line today?

Ole Miss’ regional host chances, once given up for dead, have been given a glimmer of hope by the Rebels’ SEC tournament success.

It is possible the Rebels have reentered the conversation. Certainly comments from Mississippi State AD Larry Templeton, chairman of the NCAA baseball committee, did nothing to remove Ole Miss from the conversation.

Templeton had just arrived in Indianapolis on Friday for the committee’s weekend of work when he told the Daily Journal, “Now, the more they keep winning, the more they help their cause. A lot depends on what happens with other teams across the country.”

Well, Ole Miss has kept winning, not unblemished, but has reached the tournament championship game, the first No. 8 seed to do so since the current format was adopted in 1996.

I’m not sure how good the Rebels’ host chances are. It may very well depend on RPI numbers, and if that’s the case, those still aren’t good for Ole Miss. Yesterday’s doubleheader split was good enough to finally get the Rebels into the 30s. They now are listed at 39 by Boyd Nation. Coaches have great reverence for RPI, but when it comes down to a situation like this, administrators downplay it and want to remind you about all the other factors involved.

Templeton said it was no more than one “tool” the committee will use this weekend to determine host sites. What he emphasized most was the personal touch, the individual team rankings compiled by committee members who represent the different regions of the country.

So what matters to that individual rep? Is it the body of the season’s work? Ole Miss was quite average in that regard. Is a hot finish and strong tournament run important? That would be good for the Rebels. By beating Georgia and Kentucky here, the Rebels have now split four games each with two of the Eastern Division’s best teams. By splitting with Vanderbilt yesterday, the Rebels have won four out of five against the Commodores.

Whether or not Ole Miss will continue the SEC’s longest active streak of regional hosting is a decision that may already have been made. Or, with host sites being announced later today than usual, the championship game could factor in.

No doubt Ole Miss, a bubble NCAA team when the SEC tournament began, has done wonders for its seeding.

Whether the late surge – Ole Miss has won four of five and seven of 10 – can get another regional to Swayze Field remains to be seen.

— PA


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