(12) Ole Miss vs. (13) La Salle
(12) Ole Miss Rebels
There is no more polarizing figure in the 2013 NCAA Tournament than Rebels guard Marshall Henderson. The junior guard was the most talked about player on day two after bouncing back from a cold first half to finish with 19 points, leading the Rebels to a 57-46 upset of Wisconsin. While Henderson was struggling to find his touch, and a shot he was willing to pass up on, the Rebels’ big men Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner kept them in it. They were both just shy of double-doubles as Holloway finished with 10 points and nine rebounds while Reginald tallied nine points and 12 boards. In the Round of 32, the Rebels will clash with a La Salle team that pulled off a shocker of their own in upsetting Kansas State. The Explorers’ defense isn’t anywhere near as daunting as the Badgers’ so the Rebels simply need to stick with what got them this far. Their style of basketball isn’t the most efficient or traditional, but it’s working for them. By controlling the tempo and getting another big game from Henderson, they could be one of the surprise teams in the Sweet 16.
(13) La Salle Explorers
After 20 minutes of play, the Explorers possessed a 44-26 advantage over the Kansas State Wildcats and looked well on their way to pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. However, the Wildcats came out with a sense of urgency in the second half and managed to get back into the ball game and take a late lead. But in the end, the Explorers were clutch from the free throw line, where they got all their offense from in the final seven minutes, and escaped with a 63-61 victory. Jerrell Wright and Ramon Galloway were their catalysts, scoring 21 and 19. They were also greatly aided by missed free throws from the Wildcats, who left eight points at the charity stripe. In the Round of 32, the Explorers are going to be facing a much different kind of team. They have to take care of the glass and try to limit Henderson as much as possible in order to survive and advance.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Ole Miss. Henderson is an easy guy to bet against, but we aren’t ready to see his season end yet and think the Rebels have what it takes to dispatch the Explorers.