On Sunday, March 24, No. 12 Ole Miss will meet No. 13 LaSalle (West Region) for a trip to the Sweet 16. The glass slipper is going to fit for one of these clubs, as Cinderella isn't done dancing in the West Region.
Ole Miss defeated No. 5 seed Wisconsin, while LaSalle defeated No. 4 seed Kansas State.
While both the Rebels (27-8 overall, 12-6 SEC) and Explorers (23-9 overall, 11-5 A-10) are two of the higher seeds to advance in this year's tournament, both clubs have some quality wins in 2012-13. Ole Miss defeated Florida to claim the SEC tournament championship, while LaSalle boasts wins over Butler, VCU and Villanova.
The Atlantic 10 received five bids to the Big Dance (LaSalle, Butler, Saint Louis, VCU and Temple), as opposed to the SEC only getting three invites (Ole Miss, Florida and Missouri).
There's no question LaSalle has seen stiffer competition in the A-10 than has Ole Miss in the SEC.
That may be part of the reason the Explorers have now rattled off two wins in three days of the NCAA tournament.
Andy Kennedy's squad will square off against a team of similar offensive style, as LaSalle is averaging 72.4 points per game in comparison to the Rebels' average of 78.2. It should be a fun game to watch.
One glaring difference between the two clubs is rebounding.
While Ole Miss pulls down 38.8 per game (No. 19 nationally), Dr. John Giannini's Explorers only account for 31.4 (No. 292 nationally). Noting the rebounding difference, it will be key that Rebel big men Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner stay out of foul trouble to contribute strong on the boards.
Everyone knows that as goes guard Marshall Henderson (20.1 point per game), so goes Ole Miss. However, LaSalle has four players that average 10.4 or better: Ramon Galloway (17.1), Tyreek Duren (14.7), Tyrone Garland (13.1) and Jerrell Wright (10.4).
The Explorers simply have more players to turn to offensively than do the Rebels.
When LaSalle has a lead with five minutes remaining in regulation, they're 21-0 on the season.
Ole Miss, take note.
You may not be able to come from behind against the Explorers like you've been able to do against other teams this year.
That being said, Ole Miss' Henderson is due for a big game.
He's struggled in the first halves recently, including today against Wisconsin. Opponents can't seem to keep him down for two halves, but what happens when the flamboyant guard puts together two impressive halves in the same contest?
The No. 12 seed Rebels should come out on top in this affair behind a monster game from Mr. Henderson, earning a trip to only their second-ever Sweet 16.