The Ole Miss Rebels were the biggest surprise of last season after defeating the SEC regular season champions, the Florida Gators, in the final of the SEC Tournament to go to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Once there, they pulled off an upset over the Wisconsin Badgers, but just couldn’t pull it together at the end against the LaSalle Explorers and lost 76–74.
This season, the Rebels have lost both of their post presences in Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner, but will get back last year’s leading SEC scorer Marshall Henderson. Henderson will return to the lineup after a three-game suspension that includes Ole Miss’s first two SEC games against the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers.
They’re two seemingly easy games, but without Henderson on offense, they may have some trouble with Mississippi State behind Craig Sword and Fred Thomas.
Ole Miss has a seemingly weak non-conference schedule. However, they have crucial matchups against Atlantic Sun favorites Mercer Bears, the PAC-12 hopefuls No. 19 Oregon Ducks and potential C-USA challengers in the MTSU Blue Raiders. If they can win these three games, they may only need to finish fifth or so in the SEC to go to the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Although Henderson should be expected to have a big year, it will be players like Jarvis Summers and Ladarius White that determine whether or not the Rebels have success in the 2013-14 season. Henderson could average 50 points a game and the Rebels won’t win in the SEC without someone else on the team stepping up.
Andy Kennedy’s team has the talent to make it back to the NCAA tournament, but it’s going to be much more difficult than last season. Ole Miss will have to prove that they have more than just Henderson to worry about in the 2013-2014 season.