It's Bulldog week here at Anchor of Gold. First up, Mississippi State at home. Ken Pomeroy gives Vanderbilt a 74% likelihood of victory (77-70, with a tempo of 71). Vegas considers Vandy a six point favorite.
Jarvis Varnado. Blocks.
Mississippi State is perimeter oriented. Varnado is ultimately a defensive presence (obvious statement is obvious: mainly in the paint, though he does occasionally roam out to the 3 point line depending). Vanderbilt is 6th in the country in 2 point FG% (source: kenpom.com). Irresistible force paradox? I'm thinking fewer Tinsley, Beal, and Jenkins dribble drives for lay-ins. This should be a fun matchup to watch. Varnado might get another triple-double. I'd be interested to know if Memorial has ever seen one...
*** Through Games Played 02.02.2010 - kenpom.com ***
Vanderbilt has quite an advantage in SOS (according to Pomeroy). Vanderbilt will be the toughest offense and fifth toughest defense that Mississippi State will have faced. Mississippi State will be the ninth toughest offense and the third toughest defense Vanderbilt will have faced.
One thing to keep in mind when studying this comparison, Vanderbilt's SOS is quite a bit stronger than Mississippi State's to this point.
Vanderbilt has a pretty good edge overall among the "key players." Vandy also has a healthy edge among role players. These numbers are not adjusted for the quality of the opponents. One interesting observation: each of the six positions (PG, SG, SF, PF, C, Role) was swept by one of the two teams.
Four Factors: Vanderbilt has leads in effective field goal percentage (eFG%), and free throw rate (FTRate) while Mississippi State leads in turnover percentage (TO%) and offensive rebound percentage (OReb%). Where Vandy's leads are pretty significant, Mississippi State's are marginal; factoring in SOS should give Vanderbilt the edge across the board. Prediciton: I'm going out on a limb to say that Vanderbilt will win all four categories tonight.
Traditional Statistics - Mississippi St. Bulldogs
A win tonight helps Vanderbilt keep pace with Kentucky for first place in the SEC East. With their win last night, Kentucky is currently a half game ahead of the Commodores. Mississippi State is looking to maintain their grip on the SEC West.
Historically in this series (in Memorial), this happened:
Vanderbilt - 117
Kentucky - 122
Tennessee - 130
Mississippi State - 174
Mississippi - 177
"We're a little upset right now," senior Jermaine Beal said.
"We'd had a couple of losses already," forward Andre Walker said. "I don't know that this one helped. We really wanted to get this one. But it's over now. We can't change it, but we can definitely learn from it."
"He's a different sort of player from Cousins and (Tennessee's) Wayne Chism," Ogilvy said. "You have to be smart with shots around him. You've got to get into his body and not give him a lot of time to see the ball."
"We've got a lot of improvement to make coming off that Kentucky game. We really did not box out well and play well," Ogilvy said.
"A.J. Ogilvy has had some success getting him in foul trouble. Hopefully that plays out again for us."
Mississippi State at Vanderbilt, 8 ET (ESPN360) Mississippi State started off conference play looking very strong with a signature win at Ole Miss. The Bulldogs are 4-2 and still in first place in the SEC West. But we all know things can change very quickly in conference play as State has struggled on the road with losses to Alabama and Arkansas. The Bulldogs are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the SEC, but they live and die by the 3. In their two conference losses, they have shot 14 percent from the 3-point line. Jarvis Varnado and Kodi Augustus have to give Mississippi State a huge inside presence in Nashville. Vandy is coming off its first conference loss (at Kentucky), and a home game like this is a great way to get confidence back.
Mississippi State @ #23 Vanderbilt – 8 pm on ESPN 360 (***) Mississippi State has not received much attention this season (other than the Renardo Sidney saga), but they are quietly putting together a solid SEC record at 4-2. They have had the luxury of playing mediocre SEC teams like Arkansas (twice), Georgia, Alabama and LSU thus far. The Bulldogs also have a road victory against Ole Miss to their credit, but have yet to play a top 25 team. They will get their first chance tonight against #23 Vanderbilt, and MSU will play the top three teams in the conference (Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Tennessee) only once this season, and if they can go 2-1 in those three games, they could be your surprise champion in the SEC. Vanderbilt, who just lost their first conference game over the weekend at Kentucky, still has SEC title dreams of their own. This game will be a test of Vanderbilt’s offensive style of play against MSU’s defensive-oriented style. Vanderbilt is ranked fifth in the country in offensive efficiency, while the Bulldogs only surrender 61 points per game and rank 19th in defensive efficiency. Jermaine Beal, who has been hot for VU lately, will try to light up a defense that ranks second in the nation in blocks with 8.3 per game. Vanderbilt gets to play at home, and the Bulldogs are 1-3 in their last four road games, so look for the Commodores to keep pace with Kentucky the rest of conference play.
For Whom The Cowbell Tolls is the Mississippi State affiliate for SB Nation. I'll link to their pregame post when/if they publish one.
Tipoff is set for 19.00 CT and the game will be televised on the SEC Network (Comcast ch 14 or 236 HD). Join us in the game thread, which will open about an hour before the tip. Don't forget to stop by Stat King to make your selection for the game.