Ole Miss Rebels react to NCAA Committee’s choices of national seeds
Oxford, Miss. – After Saturday’s loss to eventual Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament champion Texas A&M, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco felt “it was close” on whether the Rebels would receive a national seed.
He was correct.
Ole Miss had placed itself in position for a national seed bid, thanks to a hot run in Hoover, Alabama. But, the Rebels fell just short of receiving one. They have been selected as one of the 16 hosts for the NCAA regionals and will play No. 4 seed and Pac-12 champion Utah (7:00 p.m. CST) Friday night at Swayze Field.
The Rebel Walk was in attendance at the Watch Party with some of the Ole Miss players who were watching the NCAA Baseball Championship selection show–and some of them seemed quite shocked when LSU received the eighth and final national seed. Just like the Rebels, the Tigers were eliminated in Saturday’s semifinal round of the SEC Tournament, losing to the Florida Gators– whom they had beaten three out of five times this season.
Ole Miss’ argument for a national seed
But with the way Ole Miss (43-17) played against South Carolina and Vanderbilt in Hoover, an argument could have been made for the Rebels to receive a national seed. Ole Miss finished with a better RPI (5 compared to LSU’s 7) and better non-conference record (22-3 compared to the Tigers’ 20-6). The Rebels also had a better record than LSU against teams with RPI’s between 26 and 100 (14-4; Tigers 11-6). The Tigers did best Ole Miss with a 10-9 record against the RPI Top 25, whihe Rebels finished 10-12.
Rebels react to seeding
Amongst the Ole Miss players, there were mixed feelings on the national seeding conversation. Shortstop Errol Robinson was surprised the Rebels were not one of the top eight. “Coming into it, I thought we deserved it,” he said. “I thought we did enough to increase the wins on our resume this year. It’s disappointing, but it’s not really in our hands.
“I think we did everything in our power to become a national seed, but things didn’t go our way. Now, we just control what we control and go out there and get some wins.”
Right-handed pitcher Brady Bramlett, who will start against the Utes, felt the same as Robinson saying, “It hurts, but with that we can play with a chip on our shoulders to prove we are worthy of a national seed spot…”
Centerfielder J.B. Woodman, who led the SEC in home runs (14) this season, wasn’t too bothered by not getting a national seed. He’s just ready to take on Utah in Oxford.
“We knew it was kind of a bubble thing,” Woodman said. “So, we are trying to control what we can control and just get ready for the Regional.”
Lastly, it was Bianco who had to answer questions on why things went the way they went in the national seeding. First, Bianco was happy to see the SEC receive respect from the NCAA Committee with four schools grabbing half of the national seed spots.
Outside of the Tigers, Florida received the No. 1 overall seed. Texas A&M landed at No. 4; Mississippi State at No. 6.
“When you look at the last few, it’s hard,” Bianco said. “I think there are a lot of different factors in it. I think some of the factors we were good in as far as RPI, then probably some other factors that leaned into some team’s favor. I think the committee did a good job. I think all of us are proud that the SEC got seven hosts.
“I think when you look at the 16 teams they picked to host, they tried to pick the best 16 teams. They didn’t try to spread them out; they tried to reward the teams that had the best seasons and I think they did that with the eight. Unfortunately for us, I think it was really close but we weren’t one of the eight.”
Update on Henri Lartigue
Catcher Henri Lartigue was taken out of Saturday’s game against the Aggies in the eighth inning with what appeared to be a mild concussion. The good news is that Lartigue passed the concussion testing and will continue going through the protocol before he gets back on the field. If everything goes well, Bianco expects Lartigue to be primed and ready to go for Friday night.