(11) BYU Cougars (-2, 157 o/u) vs. (11) Ole Miss Rebels
The No. 11 BYU Cougars (25-9 SU, 16-17 ATS) and the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels (20-12 SU, 17-14) will look to survive March Madness’ dreaded “First Four” when they clash at the University of Dayton Arena in Ohio tonight (9:10 PM Eastern).
The scenario is simple: win and you move on to face No. 6 Xavier on Thursday; lose and you have watch the rest of the tourney on TV like us mere mortals.
Both BYU and Ole Miss enter the tournament after a loss, but the Cougars have been playing better basketball down the stretch.
BYU fell to Gonzaga in the WCC title game, 91-75, despite getting 28 points from junior guard Kyle Collinsworth. But that loss came on the heels of an eight-game win streak, which included a win over the Zags in Spokane.
“[I]t’s a game of runs,” said Collinsworth after his team fell in the title game. “[We knew] we’d make our run but unfortunately weren’t able to hold it and get that lead.”
Leading scorer Tyler Haws was, again, ineffective against Gonzaga, scoring just 15 points and getting shut out from behind the arc. The senior guard, who is averaging nearly 22 PPG this season and shooting 35.5-percent from three, has long struggled against the WCC powerhouse.
Fortunately for Haws and his teammates, they won’t have to see Gonzaga again for some time. Instead, the Cougars will be facing an Ole Miss squad that has lost four of its past five games (falling to Georgia, LSU, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina, while beating Alabama).
The loss to the Gamecocks came in Ole Miss’ first game of the SEC tournament. The Rebels shot just over 30-percent from the floor in the game; leading scorers Jarvis Summers and Stefan Moody were a combined 6/25.
In a one-and-done scenario like tonight’s game, the Ole Miss faithful will have to hope for better if their team is going to have a chance against the high-scoring Cougars, who average 83.6 PPG (second-highest in the nation).
BYU is currently a two-point favorite and the total is at a high 157.