Vanderbilt returns to action after a ten day break for exams to face the Indiana State Sycamores. Indiana State is considered by many experts to be the favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference this season. The Sycamores will come to Memorial Gym tonight in hopes of adding a marquee win over the Top 25-ranked Commodores.
Click through the jump for a breakdown of the team's opponents thus far and a closer look at their personnel.
To date, Vanderbilt has played 9 total games, 5 at home, 2 on neutral courts, and 2 on the road against an average KenPom rated opponent of 98.2. Indiana State has played 9 total games, four at home, 3 on neutral courts, and 2 on the road, against an average rated D-I opponent of 183.1 (they have played one non-D-I opponent). Based on their performances to date, Kenpom rates Vanderbilt to be the most efficient offensive and third most efficient defensive team that the Sycamores will have played. Indiana State rates as the seventh most efficient offensive team and the fifth most efficient defensive team. Keep in mind that these KenPom numbers are still highly reliant on preseason projections.
Based on previous opponents, Indiana State most closely resembles Oregon State. Vanderbilt is closest to Minnesota on Indiana State's schedule, though the Commodores are better than the Golden Gophers offensively and a tick worse defensively, despite missing Festus for all but one game thus far.
Looking solely at the tempo free statistics, Vanderbilt has the edge at the starting positions. Indiana State has the edge at the bench. Keep in mind that these statistics are not adjusted for the strength of the opponents. Vanderbilt has played the much tougher schedule thus far.
Four Factors: Vanderbilt is the better shooting and offensive rebounding team. Indiana State has statistical edges [on paper] in turnover percentage and getting to the free throw line. Prediction: Vanderbilt wins eFG%, FTRate, and OReb%. Indiana State wins TO%.
Ken Pomeroy predicts a 74-64 Commodore win in a game with a tempo of 67. He rates Vanderbilt's win percentage at 81%. It's been reported that Festus (soreness), Steve and Lance (concussion-like symptoms) have all missed various degrees of practice over the last ten days. Many expect Festus to play, but we could be in for surprise absences from Lance and Steve. Hopefully both play.
Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said he hoped this season Johnson "becomes a guy who is consistent off the bench and a guy we can really count on. He’s going through a lot of the trials and tribulations that every freshman goes through."
"In the first half you could kind of tell we were off-speed a little bit," Ezeli said. "I feel like they forgot how to play with me, which is understandable. It has been a while. It only took like a half. Plus, the game was kind of sped up for me. The first half I was standing around like, ‘Dang, these guys are really fast.’" Ezeli said his right knee is still sore and is about 70 percent. "I’m waiting on my explosiveness to get back," he said. "Right now, it is getting better because I have been practicing. ... It will come eventually. More playing will get my muscles back."
Tipoff is scheduled for 1630 CT and the game will be available on CSS and ESPN3.com. Our open gamethread will go live two hours before tipoff. Also, don't forget to head over to Stat-King to submit your predictions for the game.