Last Modified: Friday, March 08, 2013 11:21 PM
It must have seemed like something was missing from LSU’s basketball season.
Namely, Ole Miss.
But that will be rectified this afternoon in the final game of the regular season when the Rebels visit the Maravich Assembly Center for a 12:30 p.m. tip-off.
LSU and Ole Miss have played at least twice every year since 1945. But with the realignment of the Southeastern Conference this season, the two teams were only scheduled to play once — at the end of the schedule.
Both will be looking to improve their seeding for next week’s SEC tournament. Realistically, LSU is hoping to get a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.
The Tigers (18-10, 9-8) are tied for seventh with Georgia and Arkansas in the standings.
An LSU win and a Georgia loss at Alabama today would keep LSU at the No. 7 seed.
A Georgia win or an LSU loss would assure the Tigers of being the No. 8 or No. 9 seed, which play each other in their first tournament games.
Either slot gets a first-round bye in the tournament, but the No. 7 seed would mean avoiding a quarterfinal game against regular-season champion Florida, the only conference team that routed the Tigers (74-52) in Johnny Jones’ first season as head coach.
Ole Miss (22-8, 11-6) is holding out hope of getting into the conversation for an NCAA tournament bid.
The Rebels are one of four teams tied for second behind Florida, along with Kentucky, Missouri, and Alabama, with Tennessee one game back. Those five teams will be fighting for the three seeding spots behind the Gators that will get byes for the tournament’s first two days.
It will also be senior day for a trio of Tigers, including Eddie Ludwig, red-hot Charles Carmouche and fan-favorite Andrew Del Piero, a former tuba player from the pep band who made a surprising contribution this season and earned a starting role.
Ludwig hasn’t played since early in the season when he took a blow to the head.
But Carmouche, who played only his senior year at LSU after transferring from Memphis, has scored 20 or more points in four consecutive games.
Del Piero might be the biggest surprise. Although 7-foot-3, he hadn’t played basketball since the ninth grade when put down his tuba and walked on in midseason last year under Trent Johnson, getting only token mop-up minutes.
But he’s emerged as a starter under Jones, taking inside heat off leading scorer Johnny O’Bryant.
Ole Miss features the SEC’s leading scorer in dynamic guard Marshall Henderson, who’s averaging 19.6 points per game. He also leads the conference in 3-point goals, 41 more than his closest competitor.