Following NCAA tourney selection, Ole Miss turns its focus to Pac-12 champ Utah
Oxford, Miss. – Once news broke early Monday morning that Ole Miss did not receive one of the eight national seeds for the NCAA Baseball Tournament, the Rebels brushed it off and began to focus on Pac-12 champion Utah, Ole Miss’ first opponent in the Oxford Regional this weekend.
With a new season beginning this weekend, the Rebels (43-17) will have the opportunity to prove they were snubbed by the tournament committee, but Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco doesn’t want his team to feel down about not getting a national seed. Bianco likely hopes his team does what right-handed pitcher Brady Bramlett suggests and plays with a chip on their shoulders.
Players discuss NCAA tourney
On Monday, the Rebel Walk was at the NCAA Tournament watch party with the team. Following the selections, each player that spoke out about that matter–from Errol Robinson to Will Golsan–gave their honest opinion about the national seeds, noting they believed the Rebels had done enough to earn a top-8 seed.
As for J.B. Woodman, his mindset seemed a little different. Instead of dwelling on the national seeding or the snub by the committee, Woodman was already zoned in on Ole Miss’ first game on Friday night against the Utes.
His facial expression was somewhat stoic as he indicated he is more excited about playing in front of the home crowd at Swayze Field than anything else.
Golsan, who was asked two similar questions by two local reporters concerning the national seeding, gave the same answer without hesitating.
Down to the wire
Everyone, including Bianco, knew it would be close between Ole Miss and LSU as to who would snag a top-8 seed.
The Tigers were the fourth Southeastern Conference program to receive a national seed and are the No. 8 team in this year’s tournament.
But, in his typical fashion, Bianco made it clear things happen whether you like it or not.
Mike Bianco on tourney seeding
Scouting the Utes
On Monday following the selection show, Bianco said he did not know that much about Utah and had not realized just how good the Utes were until their name was announced in the field of 64.
Here’s some quick information on the type of season Utah has had before it defeated Washington, 21-7, to clinch the series, the conference title and an NCAA regionals bid.
The Utes (25-27) weren’t picked to do anything spectacular in the Pac-12 and have been towards the bottom of the conference in recent years, finishing in last place for four straight years. They were picked in last place again by Pac-12 coaches in preseason polls. This is Utah’s first NCAA regionals bid since 2009–and only second since 1960.
Regardless of preseason picks, Coach Bianco knows Utah is a very good team:
Mike Bianco on Utah
The Rebels are the most experienced between the two programs, having made the field 14 of the past 16 seasons. The last time Ole Miss hosted a regional in 2014, it finished tied for third in the College World Series. The Utes were 2-2 in their last appearance in 2009, falling in the regional final.
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.