We're under 48 hours till tip-off between the Badgers and Rebels in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. No doubt Wisconsin is looking to avoid the dreaded 5-12 upset to say the least. However, the opponent for the Badgers isn't exactly a household name in these parts of the country.
After all, Ole Miss and Wisconsin have NEVER met before in the history of the two schools. So, it's doubtful you and I are experts on what's going on down in Mississippi and as such we reached out to the fine folks of Red Cup Rebellion to give us the lowdown on their team and the matchup against Wisconsin from their perspective.
Enjoy the Q&A and make sure you follow them on Twitter for all their perspective on the game Friday.
MTB: Marshall Henderson is the star of this team, no question about it, but you've got to be more than a one trick pony to make the NCAA tournament. Who else should Wisconsin fans look out for?
RCR: The two guys to watch outside of Henderson are forwards Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner. Holloway is close to averaging a double-double, with 14 points and nine blocks per game. Buckner leads the SEC in blocks and has been a defensive presence ever since his freshman year. If both Holloway and Henderson are on their game, then the Rebels are a tough team to beat.
MTB: For those that haven't seen Ole Miss play ball this year can you describe what this team is all about?
RCR: This team plays a very uptempo style of basketball which favors athleticism over size. We like to move down the court quickly, setting up and taking a lot of shots early. The offense generally flows through Marshall Henderson and Murphy Holloway, the two of which average to combine roughly 35 points per game. Henderson is as advertised: a volume shooter who leads the SEC in points per game. Holloway is a slightly undersized but very athletic forward who is a tenacious rebounder and, when hot, a tough scorer to defend.
MTB: There seems to be a focus on the offensive output of this team, but the stats also show this isn't a bad defensive team, especially against the three, what kind of defensive system does Andy Kennedy deploy?
RCR: Most of what we run is a 2-3 zone defense. I guess we could call that the team's "base" defense. We press on occasion but, for the most part, it's zone. I'm not the biggest fan of this team defensively, especially against Wisconsin, in that good passing teams and big men with range can (and have) dominate the Rebs.
MTB: Any worries that the current five game win streak took too much out of this team as they tried to secure a NCAA tournament birth?
RCR: My biggest worry about the five game winning streak isn't so much the state of the team but rather the expectations of Ole Miss basketball fans. I think the team will be ready and excited to play against Wisconsin in the tournament, but I worry that Ole Miss fans are almost expecting a win at this point. Wisconsin's a really good team, but I feel that a Rebel loss – depending on how it turns out – could cause more frustration and fan anguish than it is worth.
MTB: Is Marshall Henderson misunderstood or is he really that big of an a-hole?
RCR: By all accounts, he's actually a pretty pleasant person off of the court. He's not exactly modest, but he's not, as you put it, an a-hole by any means. Cocky and annoying maybe, but not mean or altogether unpleasant. He is just a very, very competitive person who really loves the sport of basketball, and just sorta loses his damn mind when he's on the court.
MTB: Prediction and Why?
RCR: I say Wisconsin by ten. I just don't think this team has what it takes to outmaneuver the Badger's defensive gameplan. I'll believe it when I see it.