It stands to reason that playing Georgia is probably the best possible matchup the Commodores could have had after the disappointing loss last Saturday to the Wildcats: aside from Kentucky, the Bulldogs are the only other SEC team to have beaten the Commodores this season, which should provide enough of a motivating factor for the Dores that there is little risk of the hangover effect that tends to trail tough losses like the one the Commodores had last weekend. I'm of the opinion that the loss to Kentucky has left the team hungry to make up for a game they felt they could and should have won.
Still, there are other motivating factors at this point. The Commodores are currently only a half game ahead of Florida for second place in the SEC East, with a return matchup in Gainesville between the two clubs coming next Tuesday. As such, the 'Dores are in the driver seat for the final SEC Tourney bye in the East division. With regards to the NCAA Tournament, the Commodores are universally considered to be a lock for the tournament, with most "respected" bracketologists pegging the Commodores as a 4 seed. At this point, the Commodores could theoretically play their way into a 2 seed, depending on how things work out over the final games and the SEC Tournament. Of course, the team can't afford to let their focus slip, as some uncharacteristic losses would wreak havoc upon their seeding.
Ken Pomeroy's ratings give Vanderbilt an 87% probability of victory (79-67 with a tempo of 68).
Shooting performances like the one against Kentucky last Saturday (and the one in the first meeting between Vandy and Georgia) have proven rare this season for the Commodores. It would be shocking for the Commodores to shoot that poorly in consecutive games, so expect a statistical correction tonight. If the Commodores can build upon the defensive effort put forth against the Wildcats last Saturday and couple that with a more representative offensive performance, we might begin to see how dangerous this team can be in the postseason.
Vanderbilt is the best offensive team and the 14th best defensive team Georgia will have played. Georgia is the 7th best offensive team and the 19th best defensive team that the Commodores will have played this season. Both teams have comparable strengths of schedule.
Vanderbilt has advantages among the prime contributors. Vandy also has a strong bench advantage over the Bulldogs.
Four Factors: Vanderbilt has a strong advantage among turnover percentage (TO%), free throw rate (FTRate), and effective field goal percentage (eFG%). Georgia has a strong advantage in offensive rebound percentage (OReb%). Prediction: Vanderbilt wins all four categories. Last Saturday, the Commodores were able to outrebound the Kentucky Wildcats, who are perhaps the best rebounding team in the country. Both rebounding and shooting were horrid against Georgia the first time around. I expect them to be a point of emphasis in Memorial Gym.
Traditional Statistics -
|Howard "Trey" Thompkins||25||30.4||6.6||13.2||49.8||0.7||1.8||40.0||3.7||4.9||75.6||2.0||6.2||8.2||1.5||3.2||1.0||1.1||2.5||17.6|
Traditional Statistics -
(12) Vanderbilt: The last open slot for a No. 3 seed is the Midwest (St. Louis). The Commodores go there and grab the first New Orleans pod for the first weekend. The Midwest S-curve count is 20.
Vanderbilt let a win over Kentucky -- and most likely a shot at the SEC title -- out of its grasp Saturday night. The Commodores host Georgia tonight before hitting the road to face Arkansas and Florida.
Jay Bilas - 17th
Pat Forde - 15th
Doug Gottlieb - 12th
Andy Katz - 11th
Joe Lunardi - 12th
Dana O'Neil - 15th
Mark Schlabach - 16th
Dick Vitale - 17th
Jay Williams - 12th
But for now, I'll limit my thoughts and just show the list of 30 candidates I submitted this morning for the Naismith Coach of the Year award.
(Names are in alphabetical order)
26) Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt)
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Tipoff is scheduled for 18.00 CT and the game will be televised by ESPNU (Comcast ch. 272). Our open gamethread will go live about an hour before tipoff. Also, don't forget to head over to Stat-King to submit your predictions for the game.