The Tennessee Volunteers head west to Nashville to face the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Vols have had a pretty remarkable turnaround, thanks in large part to the addition of talented freshman Jarnell Stokes. Though Vanderbilt is the much stronger team on paper, it's hard to quantify exactly what these teams are right now, not to mention the fact that you're often better off tossing rankings and statistics out the window when sizing up rivalry games. I ran the numbers anyway, because THAT'S HOW I ROLL.
Click through the jump for a breakdown of each team's opponents thus far and a closer look at their respective personnel.
To date, Vanderbilt has played 19 total games, 12 at home, 2 on neutral courts, and 5 on the road against an average KenPom rated opponent of 121.8. Tennessee has played 19 total games, 11 at home, 2 on neutral courts, and 6 on the road (1 being "semi-away"), against an average rated D-I opponent of 142.6. Based on their performances to date, Kenpom rates Vanderbilt to be the seventh most efficient offensive and fourth most efficient defensive team that the Volunteers will have played. Tennessee rates as the thirteenth most efficient offensive team and the fifth most efficient defensive team that the Commodores will have played. Keep in mind that these numbers do not account for players that have missed games.
Based on previous opponents offensive and defensive efficiencies, Tennessee most closely resembles Cleveland State. Vanderbilt most closely resembles Memphis. Neither of those are actually particularly good matches. They're just the closest of any previous opponent.
Looking solely at the tempo free statistics, Vanderbilt has a slight edge at the starting positions. Tennessee has a strong bench advantage. Keep in mind that the individual statistics are not adjusted for the strength of the opponents and the location of games.
Four Factors: Turnovers and offensive rebounding look to be draws, which could go either way depending on how the ball bounces. Vanderbilt's offense generates a signficantly larger number of free throw opportunities AND Tennessee tends to put teams on the line a lot more than Vanderbilt does. This could be a huge advantage if the refs give Vanderbilt the traditional home court advantage. This should be a point of emphasis for Coach Stallings. Vanderbilt also has an edge with regards to effective field goal percentage: the Commodores shoot it better than the Vols and they hold their opponents to lower marks than Tennessee does. Prediction: Vanderbilt wins all four categories.
Ken Pomeroy predicts a 69-59 Vanderbilt win in a game with a tempo of 64. He rates Vanderbilt's win percentage at 83%.
Traditional Statistics -- Tennessee Volunteers
Tipoff is scheduled for 1800 CT and the game will be available on ESPNU (as well as ESPN3 - ?). 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.