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Ole Miss looks to reverse history, as the Rebels (9-4) travel to No. 1 Kentucky tonight (6 p.m., SEC Network), the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Ole Miss is 0-15 all-time against the nation's top ranked team, last playing No. 1 Kentucky in 2012. Kentucky is 102-13 all-time against Ole Miss, including 48-2 in games played in Lexington. The Rebels have one win all-time at Rupp Arena, coming in 1998.

"Excited to get the SEC schedule under way, and we obviously do it in grand fashion in Rupp Arena tomorrow night," said head coach Andy Kennedy on the SEC teleconference Monday. "So I know our guys will be excited about the opportunity, playing in the most storied venue in all of college basketball, against arguably the best team in college basketball. So I know our guys will be looking forward to the opportunity."

The Wildcats are a perfect 13-0, as they pursue the first undefeated season in college basketball since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers, a team that included Tom Abernathy, the father of Todd Abernethy, the coordinator of recruiting development and acting assistant coach.

By defeating Louisville by eight points, 58-50, Kentucky's school-record run of consecutive double-digits to begin the season ended at 12, a run that included double-digit wins over No. 5 Kansas, No. 25 Providence, No. 6 Texas and No. 18 North Carolina.

"Cal doesn't get the credit he deserves for the job he does," said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin on the SEC teleconference Monday. "I watched them the other day. They're magnificent. They're defending as well as any team in the country, and as well as any team I've seen in a long time."

Their defense, Kennedy said, is what gives gives them an opportunity an opportunity to undefeated this season. Kentucky leads the nation in scoring defense (47.8 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.297) and blocked shots (8.2/game). The Wildcats also lead the SEC and ranks seventh nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.267).

"They're a special defensive team," Kennedy said. I've certainly watched them casually when I could throughout the course of the season, and then as we gear up for them in preparation. That is what gives them an opportunity to do what I know is a topic of conversation not only in Kentucky but throughout the country: Can this team go through the regular season undefeated? 

"It'll be a monumental challenge, obviously, but defensively is the reason that I think it's a valid question, simply because they don't give you anything easy, and as a result teams have really struggled to score against them."

Because of their defense, along with their size and length, Kennedy has stressed the importance of making jump shots, and defensively, keeping them off the offensive glass. Kentucky leads the SEC and ranks ninth nationally in rebounding margin (+10.4/game), leading the league in both offensive rebounds (15.2/game) and offensive rebounding percentage (.460).

"We're going to have to make jump shots, which is not easy to do in any venue, much less Rupp," said Kennedy after the win over Austin Peay on Saturday. "Because of their length and ability to alter everything in the paint, you have to make jump shots. Defensively, you have to do an incredible job off the defensive glass. We've improved on our rebounding margin and guys are pursing the ball more consistently. If you allow them to live off the offensive glass, you have no chance."

Kentucky head coach John Calipari, looking at Ole Miss, stressed the importance of defending jump shots, particularly perimeter shots, noting that the Rebels' three leading scorers, all perimeter players -- junior Stefan Moody (13.9 ppg), senior Jarvis Summers (13.3 ppg) and LaDarius White (12.5 ppg) -- account for 52.6 percent of the team's scoring and 53.2 percent of the team's field goal attempts.

"Mississippi is going to shoot 25 threes in this game or maybe more," said Calipari in his media opportunity Monday. "If they make 20, then we lost our first game. They're shooting 25. Their three guards are their leading scorers and take more than 50 percent of their shots. 

"They offensive rebound 13 or 14 per game. They're going to play a zone where they're changing defenses. It could confuse us. If they're making shots, then we have to try to drive them off the 3-point line. When you're playing teams that are willing to shoot that many, you just don't know."

SEC Appears Stronger Entering Start of League Play

Looking at the SEC as a whole, all metrics point to a stronger league from top to bottom and perhaps more NCAA Tournament bids for a league that received just three bids last season. And it starts with Kentucky's dominance at the top.

"Kentucky has sort of separated themselves in the nonconference from the rest of the world, not only in our league, but from everybody else's league as well," said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings on the SEC teleconference Monday. "Our league is deep and I think the conference season will be an absolute grind because there are so many teams that are probably competitive and equal enough that a lot of teams can win on any given night."

The SEC is one of four conferences with five teams in the RPI top 50 and one of three leagues with 10 teams in the RPI top 100. The SEC also has five teams in the top 50 and 11 teams in the top 100, according to KenPom.com. Ole Miss is rated No. 93 and No. 67 in the two metrics, respectively.

ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his first full bracket of the season, and it included five SEC teams, and in his conference-by-conference forecast, he forecasts four teams from the SEC to receive an NCAA Tournament bid.

The goal from day one for head coach Steven McRoberts was to lead Ole Miss to its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and its first since 2010. 

Entering the team's final two matches, McRoberts said he felt as though they were on the outside looking in to the NCAA Tournament. With a 3-0 win Wednesday over Georgia, the Rebels kept their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

"We know that potentially these are the last few days we have of the season, and the girls have been doing a great job," McRoberts said. "The only thing we can do is win, and then we put it in the hands of the committee. We don't really have any control of whether we get an NCAA bid. If we win Friday, we put ourselves at least in the conversation. 

"It's been hard not to hang our hat on that, because if we didn't win tonight, then Friday doesn't matter. I was really proud of the team that we didn't look ahead. It was one of our cleanest and best matches tonight as we're going into Friday, and that will give us a lot of confidence."

Ole Miss improved to 22-9 overall and 8-9 in Southeastern Conference play, ahead of its regular-season finale against Texas A&M, which enters the match 20-8 overall and 12-5 in SEC play. 

The match presents a top-25 RPI opportunity for Ole Miss, ranked No. 63 in the NCAA's official RPI rankings, as they welcome a Texas A&M team ranked No. 19 in the NCAA RPI. In their earlier meeting this season in College Station, the Rebels took the first set before the Aggies rallied to win the match 3-1.

"We need Friday," said McRoberts, when asked about his team's resume. "There are two or three matches that are kind of haunting us right now, that if we had those and if we were sitting at 25 wins, instead of 22, I would feel really good that we're going to get in. 

"I feel like we have put ourselves in a situation. It's not a high-pressure situation. We have told the team, 'Let's come out, play well and give ourselves an opportunity.' Hopefully, that translates into playing another week."

Playing in a match on the last day of the regular season with possible NCAA Tournament implications, McRoberts said, makes good on his original goal, at least in part.

"I'm really pleased with where we are at as a program," McRoberts said. "I'm pleased that we're going into our last match, and we're still talking about the NCAA Tournament. Going to the NCAA Tournament was the goal from the beginning. 

"From where they came last year, a realistic statement would be, if we were talking about the NCAA Tournament, it's a success. I like the fact that we have two days left in the regular season, and we're still saying what if. That's a nice thing."

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume for Ole Miss:

22-9 Overall | 8-9 SEC (7th)

RPI: 63

Record against RPI top 25: 0-4

Record against RPI top 50: 2-5 (wins over Alabama 2x)

Record against RPI top 100: 4-6 (wins over Memphis, Arkansas State, Alabama 2x)

Road Record: 5-6

Ole Miss clinched the SEC Western Championship and locked up the second overall seed in the SEC Tournament as the Rebels won two of three games at Texas A&M this past weekend. With the series win, Ole Miss finished the regular season 40-16 overall and 19-11 in SEC play and moved up two spots in week's official RPI rankings, from No. 15 to No. 13.

Fellow SEC national seed contenders Vanderbilt and South Carolina are Nos. 6 and 8, respectively. Other national seed contenders of note are Louisiana-Lafayette (7), Miami (FL) (12) and TCU (14).

As far as the RPI top 25 and top 50, there are a couple of Ole Miss opponents to watch entering conference tournament play this week. Kentucky and Alabama each fell three spots to Nos. 22 and 24, respectively. Arkansas and UCF each moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to Nos. 41 and 46, respectively, while Georgia fell 10 spots to No. 55. 

The Rebels will open SEC Tournament play with either No. 7 seed Arkansas (No. 41 RPI) or No. 10 seed Texas A&M (No. 33) on Wednesday, followed by No. 3 seed LSU (No. 16), No. 6 seed Vanderbilt (No. 6) or No. 11 seed Tennessee (No. 45) on Thursday.

Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among his eight national seeds, while Baseball America's Aaron Fitt had Vanderbilt replacing Ole Miss as a national seed in last week's projections. After Ole Miss' series win over Texas A&M, Rogers still had the Rebels in as the eighth and final national seed with South Carolina and TCU, among other teams also in the mix for a national seed.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

40-16 Overall | 19-11 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 22

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 14-11

Record against RPI top 100: 21-14

Road Record: 15-7

Florida Gators

37-19 Overall | 21-9 SEC (1st)

RPI: 2

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 14-7

Record against RPI top 50: 22-13

Record against RPI top 100: 29-17

Road Record: 12-8

LSU Tigers

40-14-1 Overall | 17-11-1 SEC (3rd)

RPI: 16

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 45

Record against RPI top 25: 4-8

Record against RPI top 50: 12-12

Record against RPI top 100: 18-12-1

Road Record: 10-9

South Carolina Gamecocks

42-14 Overall | 18-12 SEC (t-4th)

RPI: 8

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 34

Record against RPI top 25: 8-7

Record against RPI top 50: 12-9

Record against RPI top 100: 23-12

Road Record: 8-9

Vanderbilt Commodores

40-16 Overall | 17-13 SEC (6th)

RPI: 6

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 4

Record against RPI top 25: 8-6

Record against RPI top 50: 18-14

Record against RPI top 100: 24-15

Road Record: 13-7

With a series win over Georgia, Ole Miss remained in first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division and can clinch the division with at least two wins at Texas A&M this weekend. However, for the second straight week, the Rebels dropped in this week's official RPI rankings, from No. 12 to No. 15.

Arkansas, which Ole Miss won two of three games against earlier this season, moved up four spots to No. 50, while Alabama, which swept the Rebels earlier this season moved more solidly into the RPI top 25 to No. 21.

Ole Miss finishes the regular season with a midweek contest at Arkansas State (No. 60), followed by a three-game series at Texas A&M (No. 35). UCF, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, is another opponent to watch in the RPI rankings, as the Golden Knights dropped eight spots to No. 48.

Both Baseball America's Aaron Fitt and Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among their eight national seeds in last week's projections, and the Rebels remain in both the regional host and national seed discussion with one weekend left in the regular season.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Fitt's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Is it a given that either Rice or TCU gets a national seed, and are they competing with each other for one? If so, how is that race shaping up? Is any other Lone Star program in the national seed conversation?

A: I'd hesitate to say it's a "given" that one of them will be a national seed, because there's still a lot of competition for those eight spots; there are three very strong ACC contenders and there will probably be three strong SEC contenders (Florida, Ole Miss, and the Vandy/South Carolina series winner), plus Oregon State and Louisiana-Lafayette and Indiana. Frogs and Owls must both continue to play at a high level; and I do believe they are probably both competing for one spot. Right now, I lean toward TCU because it plays in a better league and is 14-8 vs. the top 50, vs. Rice's 8-9. And no, I don't see another team from the state in the national seed mix. Houston has a great RPI, but being in third place in the AAC (three games back, too) really hurts.

Q: Hey Aaron, do you still see Ole Miss being a national seed if they win their series against A&M this week and is Florida still a national seed if they lose this week to Tennessee?

A: Yes on Ole Miss. Feel like Florida is probably safe even if it loses this weekend -- Gators had such a cushion to work with in the standings and in the RPI, and all those top 25 and top 50 wins are loud.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Rogers's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Hey Kendall, big fan here. I was wondering who you think from the SEC will get a national seed draw. Do you think two could get one? Thanks.

A: I anticipate having Ole Miss and Florida still in as national seeds this week. I could see the SEC getting a third national seed, and right now, I would give that to Vanderbilt. I'd also keep an eye on South Carolina if the Gamecocks take that series from the Commodores this weekend. Right now I'd go with two national seeds, but three absolutely far from out of the question.

Q: Will a series win at Texas A&M secure at national seed spot for Ole Miss?

A: Would be pretty hard to deny at that point. Would mean OM finished the season exactly the way the committee would like to see it finish.

Q: What does Ole Miss have to do to host?

A: OM is hosting barring some 0-3 vs. A&M, and 0-2 in the SEC tournament type of deal ....

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

37-15 Overall | 17-10 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 15

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 23

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 14-11

Record against RPI top 100: 18-13

Road Record: 12-6

Remaining Schedule: at Arkansas State (No. 60), 3 at Texas A&M (No. 35)

Alabama Crimson TIde

32-19 Overall | 14-12 SEC (7th)

RPI: 21

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 10

Record against RPI top 25: 8-9

Record against RPI top 50: 13-13

Record against RPI top 100: 19-17

Road Record: 10-10

Remaining Schedule: at Jacksonville State (No. 101), 3 vs. Mississippi State (No. 42)

Florida Gators

34-18 Overall | 19-8 SEC (1st)

RPI: 3

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 14-7

Record against RPI top 50: 23-12

Record against RPI top 100: 27-16

Road Record: 10-7

Remaining Schedule: South Florida (No. 143), 3 at Tennessee (No. 44)

LSU Tigers

36-14-1 Overall | 14-11-1 SEC (6th)

RPI: 20

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 48

Record against RPI top 25: 4-8

Record against RPI top 50: 14-12-1

Record against RPI top 100: 15-12-1

Road Record: 7-9

Remaining Schedule: Northwestern State (No. 133), 3 at Auburn (No. 68)

South Carolina Gamecocks

39-13 Overall | 16-11 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 34

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 14-10

Record against RPI top 100: 18-11

Road Record: 6-8

Remaining Schedule: The Citadel (No. 202), 3 at Vanderbilt (No. 7)

Vanderbilt Commodores

38-14 Overall | 16-11 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 7

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 11

Record against RPI top 25: 7-4

Record against RPI top 50: 17-12

Record against RPI top 100: 22-14

Road Record: 13-7

Remaining Schedule: Southeast Missouri State (No. 75), 3 vs. South Carolina (No. 12)

Ole Miss moved into first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a series win over Arkansas this past weekend. However, the Rebels dropped eight spot to No. 12 in this week's official RPI rankings.

Two Ole Miss opponents -- UCF and Mississippi State -- moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to Nos. 39 and 40, respectively. Auburn, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, dropped 20 spots to No. 67. The Rebels' next opponent, Georgia, moved up 17 spots to No. 45.

Three other Ole Miss opponents to watch in the RPI rankings are Alabama, Arkansas and Arkansas. The Crimson Tide, which swept the Rebels earlier this season, dropped five spots to No. 25, while Arkansas and Arkansas State each moved up five spots to Nos. 54 and 55, respectively.

Both Baseball America's Aaron Fitt and Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among their eight national seeds in last week's projections, and the Rebels remains in both the regional host and national seed discussion with two weekends left in the regular season.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Fitt's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: What are your thoughts on Ole Miss' and do you agree that if they win their last two series that they will be a national seed?

A: I think that's a very good, balanced club -- one of the most dangerous offensive teams out there, and solid enough on the mound to be quite dangerous. Yes, if they win their last two series, they'll be a national seed.

Q: Yet another week of interesting SEC developments. Vandy looks poised for the hosting bubble and about ready to get into serious national seed conversation. South Carolina appears to be headed in the other direction and perhaps LSU. Besides the obvious choice of Florida as a national seed, who from the SEC seems most likely to get a 2nd national seed. UM or Vandy? LSU, Bama, or USC-E still have a reasonable/possible path?

A: I still think a lot remains to be settled over these last three weeks, but I'm leaning toward Ole Miss as a second national seed from the SEC. Vandy, LSU and South Carolina are all still alive in that race, I think, but Alabama is falling back. It's still a pretty fluid picture; a lot can change depending on how these teams finish.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Rogers's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Safe to say Ole Miss is a lock as a regional host?

A: The Rebels would have to do something pretty bad the rest of the way (last two weekends) to lose a host site. This is one of those years where I think Mike Bianco really needed to get a host, and he's going to get it barring a surprise.

Q: Will Ole Miss still be projected as a national seed after this weekend?

A: I would say so ... but let me look at everything tomorrow. But right now, I would say yes.

Q: If the season ended today, who are your 4 or 5 SEC hosts? And, any predictions on who hosts from the league when these last two weeks (plus SECT) play out? Do you think we'll see a traveling 1 seed from the SEC this year? Please not VU to Liberty. I'd hate that more than getting stuck with Louisville again.

A: I still like LSU as my fourth SEC host with Florida, South Carolina and Ole Miss as the others. I also think Vanderbilt and Alabama are heavily in the mix. Vandy still has South Carolina, and that could go a long way into determining who gets a host site in the league. That's still a wide open race outside of Ole Miss and Florida at this point, who both look to be in very good shape ... Don't see an SEC team traveling as a No. 1.

Q: If you had to pick a team from the SEC not named Florida to make it to Omaha, who would it be?

A: South Carolina. If the Gamecocks are healthy in the postseason, and that's still a big if, they'll be in Omaha, IMO. My other team after that is Ole Miss. Ole Miss is extremely balanced this year, and that offense has a chance to put up some big numbers in the NCAA postseason.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

35-14 Overall | 15-9 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 22

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 10-9

Record against RPI top 100: 16-12

Road Record: 12-6

Alabama Crimson TIde

30-18 Overall | 13-11 SEC (t-6th)

RPI: 25

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 16

Record against RPI top 25: 7-8

Record against RPI top 50: 11-10

Record against RPI top 100: 18-16

Road Record: 9-9

Florida Gators

33-15 Overall | 18-6 SEC (1st)

RPI: 2

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 13-5

Record against RPI top 50: 20-8

Record against RPI top 100: 26-12

Road Record: 10-7

LSU Tigers

33-11 Overall | 13-10-1 SEC (5th)

RPI: 17

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 44

Record against RPI top 25: 3-7

Record against RPI top 50: 11-10-1

Record against RPI top 100: 14-11-1

Road Record: 7-9

South Carolina Gamecocks

35-13 Overall | 13-11 SEC (t-6th)

RPI: 11

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 30

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 13-8

Record against RPI top 100: 18-11

Road Record: 6-8

Vanderbilt Commodores

36-12 Overall | 14-10 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 5

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 19

Record against RPI top 25: 5-2

Record against RPI top 50: 14-8

Record against RPI top 100: 18-12

Road Record: 11-6

Remaining Schedule For Ole Miss:

May 9-11 vs. Georgia (45)

May 13 at Arkansas State (55)

May 15-17 at Texas A&M (32)

By The Numbers: Ole Miss Baseball

After a weekend sweep of No. 17 Kentucky, Ole Miss moved up five spots to No. 4 in this week's official RPI rankings

Auburn, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, moved into the RPI top 50 to No. 47, and UCF, which Ole Miss also swept earlier this season, moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to No. 45.

With its resume to this point, Ole Miss is in both the regional host and national seed discussion. Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers assessed the Rebels' national seed chances in his weekly college chat on Monday.

I think it'll be very close this weekend. I think there also are some other teams moving into that mix, too. For instance, Oregon State is almost guaranteed to be a national seed this week, and Indiana is up to 2 overall in the RPI with a solid resume. The big thing for Ole Miss right now is its only 5-7 vs. RPI Top 25 and 15-11 vs. RPI Top 100, but to me, that all gets trumped by having a solid SEC record. With that said, the Rebels are still behind South Carolina and Florida in the pecking order, and I'm not so sure the SEC is going to get three national seeds just yet. Ole Miss is head to head with LSU, IMO, for a third national seed. Right now, LSU has the head to head, but OM leads pretty much every other metric, especially in non-conference play and SOS.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Florida, LSU and South Carolina.

Ole Miss Rebels

33-12 Overall | 13-8 SEC (t-2nd)

RPI: 4

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 15

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 13-9

Record against RPI top 100: 15-11

Road Record: 12-6

Florida Gators

30-15 Overall | 15-6 SEC (1st)

RPI: 3

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 10-5

Record against RPI top 50: 15-8

Record against RPI top 100: 21-11

Road Record: 7-7

LSU Tigers

33-11 Overall | 12-8-1 SEC (4th)

RPI: 15

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 40

Record against RPI top 25: 3-7

Record against RPI top 50: 8-8

Record against RPI top 100: 13-9

Road Record: 6-7

South Carolina Gamecocks

34-11 Overall | 12-9 SEC (5th)

RPI: 6

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 20

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 14-7

Record against RPI top 100: 17-9

Road Record: 5-6

Remaining Schedule For Ole Miss:

April 30 vs. Southern Miss (RPI No. 67)

May 2-4 vs. Arkansas (59)

May 9-11 vs. Georgia (62)

May 13 at Arkansas State (60)

May 15-17 at Texas A&M (38)

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