I'd like to lead off by congratulating the Crimson Tide football team on extending the SEC's streak of BCS National Championships! I heard Nick Saban is throwing this awesome party tonight to celebrate. He said anyone who doesn't show will be branded a closet Vawl fan. Seriously. I heard the University will be taking attendance and anyone who has football season tickets that doesn't show will be losing them. Oh, and I think it starts at 8pm, which coincidentally is the start time of the basketball game tonight. Nevermind that home court advantages have a tremendous impact on the outcome of basketball games. You should totally go to the party. I mean, if you are a true Tide football fan...
Over the years, road games in which Vanderbilt has been statistically favored have been few and far between. This season appears to be the exception. Ken Pomeroy gives Vanderbilt a 57% chance of victory tonight (prediction: VU 72, UA 70 with a tempo of 68).
The Commodores and the Crimson Tide split their contests last season, with Vanderbilt winning the regular season matchup in Nashville and Alabama winning in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. 'Bama leads the all-time series 65-62.
While Vanderbilt is currently on a six game win streak, the Crimson Tide have a four game win streak of their own. JaMychal Green and Mikhail Torrance are Alabama's leading scorers with 15.6 and 15.5 points per game, respectively. Senario Hillman has been playing well lately, scoring double-digits in the last four games.
*** Through Games Played 01/12/2010 /// All Numbers From Kenpom.com ***
Aside from a solid pasting of the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, Alabama has a solid win against Michigan (on a neutral floor). Their worst loss was in their season opener at the hands of Cornell.
Offensively, Vanderbilt will be the second most efficient opponent Alabama has faced. Defensively, Vanderbilt will be the 4th toughest opponent Alabama will have faced this season. The Crimson Tide will be the 3rd best offensive and 5th best defensive team the Commodores will have faced.
Vanderbilt matches up very well physically against Alabama, whose tallest players are 6'9 (JaMychal Green, Justin Knox and seldom-used Justin Luquire). It will be interesting to see A.J. Ogilvy go up against JaMychal Green, who gives up 2 inches and 30+ lbs to the stout Aussie. This is a matchup that A.J. needs to dominate if he wants to prove himself ready for the NBA. Hopefully Festus Ezeli will continue to show signs of his improvement when he comes in to relieve A.J.
Considering Vanderbilt squared off against an Anthony Grant-coached VCU team last season, it should come as no surprise to Commodore fans that Alabama plays a very similar style to Florida. One would expect that Coach Stallings has made few adjustments to the gameplan he used to defeat Florida. Look for Andre Walker to be a key distributor of the ball should Alabama attempt to neutralize A.J. with a zone defense.
Of the four factors, Vanderbilt has comfortable leads in free throw rate and effective field goal percentage. Alabama has narrow leads in offensive rebound percentage and turnover percentage. Keep in mind that schedule difficulty plays a role in these numbers.
Vanderbilt has the size, depth, and statistics on their side. For once, Vanderbilt won't be the team that has to overcome the odds. Quite the contrast to the recently ended football season
Vanderbilt — A.J. Ogilvy responded to being back in the starting lineup and scored 24 points, and Vanderbilt opened the Southeastern Conference schedule beating Florida, 95-87, on Saturday for the Commodores’ sixth straight victory. Jermaine Beal added 22 points and Jeffery Taylor had a perfect shooting day (5-5 FG, 4-4 FT) to add 14 points for the Commodores.
Tipoff is set for 20:00 CT and the game will be televised on CSS (ESPN Full Court & ESPN360). Join us in the game thread, which will open about an hour before tipoff. Don't forget to visit Stat King to make your selection for the game. Apparently I need some competition.