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Ole Miss-La Salle sets up 2013's most unlikely NCAA Tournament pairing


The Sweet 16 will feature either Ole Miss or La Salle.

Let that sink in a bit. Ole Miss and La Salle have been also-rans in their leagues for roughly a decade, and now one of them will reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Just to be clear, the fact that Ole Miss is a No. 12 seed and La Salle is a No. 13 is probably the least strange part about this round of 32 matchup:

♦ Neither program made the NCAA Tournament from 2002 to this season. La Salle hadn’t been to the Tournament since 1992 and had won only one Tournament game since 1955.

♦ Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson made one field goal in the first half, and the Rebels still defeated Wisconsin. La Salle hit only three field goals in the second half against Kansas State and still won.

♦ Both coaches entered the season under some pressure to reach the NCAA Tournament. The pressure was more on Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy, who had the Rebels in the NIT in five of the previous six seasons. La Salle’s John Giannini had not won 20 games in a season at La Salle through his first seven seasons before winning 21 last season.

And both have an affinity for the Landshark gesture (gif from The Big Lead):

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