Good friends meet today as Coach Stallings' Commodores take on Coach Byrd's Belmont Bruins. Though the teams rarely ever play regular season games, they are hardly unfamiliar with each other. During the informal summer months of the offseason, it isn't out of the ordinary to find Bruins playing against or even with Commodores in pick up games.
Don't think that the Vanderbilt players are looking past the Bruins, either. Kenpom.com has Belmont ranked at 56th, good enough to make Belmont the third best team the Commodores will have played this season (behind West Virginia at 22nd and UNC at 28th).
Belmont is off to a solid 5-1 start, having only lost to Tennessee in their opener. Unfortunately, the rest of the schedule doesn't quite stack up, coming in at 243rd overall, with victories over opponents with an average ranking of 255. Vanderbilt on the other hand has a non-conference schedule ranked 125th, with victories over opponents with an average ranking of 168, and two wins over teams in the top 100 (1 in the top 30).
Vanderbilt will represent the second best offensive (really they are tied with Tennessee and therefore I could and should say the best) and second best defensive team Belmont will have faced thus far, while Belmont currently stacks up as the 3rd best offensive and 4th best defensive team the Commodores will have played. Based on the numbers, Vanderbilt most closely resembles Tennessee on Belmont's schedule (an 76-85 loss for Belmont), while Belmont most closely resembles Nebraska or Western Kentucky (both wins for the Commodores, though hardly great fits for the Bruins).
Belmont holds a decided advantage in the tempo free statistics above among the players. Some of this is certainly due to playing inferior opponents, but there is certainly a portion that should be attributed to being well-coached. Belmont has a reputation for being high-efficiency and sharp and Coach Stallings would be the first to give the credit to Belmont's Rick Byrd.
Vanderbilt hasn't exactly been the model of offensive efficiency so far this season, and Coach Stallings was quick to shoulder the blame himself after the Western Kentucky game. Aside from the opener against the woeful Blue Hose, the Commodores have yet to really click consistently on offense. Hopefully we'll see improvement over the next few games, as I'm sure that's his main focus right now in practice.
Four Factors: Belmont holds the edge in all four categories (TO%, eFG%, OReb% and FTRate). Prediction: I'm hoping to see the Commodores win at least two of the four, with OReb% and eFG% in particular.
Traditional Statistics -
Tipoff is scheduled for 13.00 CT and the game will be televised by CSS (Comcast ch. 27). Our open gamethread will go live about an hour before tipoff. Also, don't forget to head over to Stat-King to submit your predictions for the game.