The good news is that Vanderbilt will have eight of their 18 SEC games broadcast across the country this winter. The bad news, as you might have figured, is that they'll be running a skeleton crew for those games.
The Commodores are down to nine scholarship players this year after losing four underclassmen to transfers and disciplinary action this summer. Now, a bare bones squad led by seniors Rod Odom and Kyle Fuller will try to lead this team to a winning record after last year's 16-17 finish. They'll kick off their SEC season on the road when they face an Alabama team that is returning their top three scorers from 2012-2013.
Vandy won't get any rest after that challenge in Tuscaloosa on January 7th. They'll return home to Nashville to face a reloaded Kentucky team in a Saturday game slated to be broadcasted on CBS. After that, they'll host the ever-dangerous Missouri Tigers on either ESPN or ESPN2.
That three-game stretch will be this team's litmus test for 2014. While the team hasn't released an out-of-conference schedule yet, the prevailing assumption (and lack of news about early-season tournaments - EDIT: Vanderbilt will play in the Paradise Jam tournament, where their toughest competition will be either Maryland or Providence) suggests that the Commodores will opt for a slow build to their season rather than jumping right into the fire. They'll get three of the toughest teams the SEC has to offer right out of the gates, and a couple of wins would be monumental in setting the tone for the 2013-2014 season.
Vanderbilt will play five league opponents twice during the regular season thanks to the SEC's expansion to 14 teams and the abolition of divisions within the conference. Those teams will be Tennessee, Missouri, Texas A&M, LSU, and Ole Miss. This will be the first time in over 60 years that Vandy and Kentucky will only meet once before the SEC Tournament rolls around.
Here's what the SEC schedule looks like. The dates of five Commodore games have yet to be announced by the university, along with the eighth nationally broadcast matchup. Games slated for either CBS or any ESPN networks are denoted with an asterisk:
|at Texas A&M||25-Jan|
|at Ole Miss||8-Mar|
|at South Carolina||?|