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SEC Baseball 2011 Preview: Ole Miss Rebels


The Rebels were in contention for the SEC West late, until an ill-timed five-game slide against Alabama and Auburn knocked them from the race. After going 2-2 in the SEC tournament, the Rebels won the first game of their NCAA Regional behind Drew Pomeranz, then watched the rest of the pitching staff fall apart to allow 33 runs in the last two games.
KEY LOSS: Drew Pomeranz
It would be hard to come up with anyone who could begin to challenge Pomeranz for the best SEC pitcher last year. He was 9-2 with a 2.24 ERA, but we all know those numbers don't always tell the full story. So take a look at his 139 strikeouts and seven home runs in 100.2 innings of work, or opponents' .195 average when facing Pomeranz.
KEY RETURN: Matt Snyder
His .347/.481/.653 campaign ended with him leading the team in all those categories except average -- where he fell short by a single point. His 12 home runs were also tied for tops on the Rebels and he fielded 42 games without an error.
Unlike their hapless football counterparts, the Green Wave are actually a pretty good team in college baseball, ranked in the Top 25 preseason by Baseball America. There's no reason for the Rebels not to focus, with a slate of fairly weak opponents filling the nearby calendar.
Ole Miss faces one of the national title favorites a week after going to Auburn and a week before hosting South Carolina in what could be one of the toughest three-week slates faced by any team in the league this year -- and one that has to rank as one of the hardest in the country.
GOING TO HOOVER? Highly likely
Mike Bianco has never led an Ole Miss team to fewer than 35 overall wins, and has only twice had fewer than 39. There's little reason to believe he won't put together enough conference wins to make the tournament.
NCAAs? Probably
The last time the Rebels missed the NCAA tournament was 2002, which is also the only time in Bianco's tenure that he hasn't taken them there.