Vanderbilt will play on ESPN five times this season, and could see as many as seven (two flex ESPN/ESPN2 games). The five games on ESPN marks the most the Commodores have ever played on the channel - the previous record was four in 2009-2010.
My instant reaction follows after the break...
Non-Conference Opponents (Chronological)
Presbyterian, Nebraska*, West Virginia/Davidson*, North Carolina/Hofstra/Minnesota/Western Kentucky*, Grambling State, Appalachian State, Western Kentucky, Belmont, @ Missouri, Southeastern Louisiana, @ Middle Tennessee State, Marquette, Davidson, Saint Mary's
Off the top of my head and outside of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (*s above), our toughest game would have to be at Mizzou. I have no idea at this point how good Marquette and Davidson are supposed to be this coming season. There are only two traditional road games to go along with the early-season tournament neutral court games, which should give the Commodores plenty of home support to help get the gears running smoothly after the losses of A.J. Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal. Also, there are two exhibition games this season (a first since November '04). Finally, St. Mary's is wedged in the middle of the conference schedule, which is a rarity for Vanderbilt (UTEP in '05 was the last).
@ South Carolina, Georgia, @ Tennessee (GameDay), Ole Miss, @ Mississippi State, Arkansas, @ Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, @ Georgia, @ Auburn, Tennessee, @ LSU, @ Kentucky, Florida
The first half of the schedule alternates between away and home games, leading right into a 3 game home stand smack dab in the middle. The last four games of the schedule might be the toughest stretch.
For the first time in quite a while, Vandy plays Kentucky at home before they face them on the road.
Impossibly Early Predictions
Exhibition: 2-0 (kidding)
Puerto Rico Tip Off: On paper we should challenge for the title. I'll say 2-1 for now to play it safe. Hopefully those two are the first two.
Non-Conference: 12-2 (possible losses in the PRTO and possibly one more - at Missouri)
Conference: 10-6 (I started at 12-4, and then traded 2 of those wins for the inevitable upset/ugly/blowout losses)
Overall: 22-8. Assuming no terribly unforeseen upsets, I'd hope we're in a good spot to get a bid to the big dance heading into the SEC Tourney.
Now, I think this is more of a benchmark for the coming season than my actual feelings. I absolutely think we're capable of besting these projections. Maybe we'll be able to look back and say whether or not the team had a good season by how their actual results compare.
Thoughts on the schedule?