Vanderbilt travels to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators in a game that has important SEC East title implications. Florida currently leads the division at 5-2, while Vanderbilt is holding on at 3-3. A win and Florida helps cement it's position at the top of the division. A win for Vanderbilt keeps them in the thick of the hunt and helps send Florida tumbling back down to the pack. Both teams lost their last game (VU to Arkansas at home and Florida to Mississippi State on the road), so one of these teams is going to enjoy its first two game losing streak of the season. Which team will that be? Let's take a closer look.
According to Kenpom, Vanderbilt is currently the 30th best team in the land (down from 20th prior to the Arkansas game and a high of 14th before the Mississippi State game last week), while Florida is 37th. Both teams have played fairly difficult schedules, with Vanderbilt's SOS ranked at 45th and Florida's at 68th.
Based on performances to date, Vanderbilt will be the second best offensive and eighth best defensive team the Gators will have played this season. Of the opponents Florida has faced, Vanderbilt most closely aligns with Tennessee (ugh -- strictly from an OE and DE standpoint and having little to do with style), though the Commodores are much better offensively and are very similar defensively. Prior to the Arkansas game, Vanderbilt's defensive numbers were much better, so there is a bit of a "fluke shooting" factor in play. Florida beat Tennessee in Knoxville in OT in their lone matchup thus far.
Florida on the other hand will be the fifth best offensive and sixth best defensive team the Commodores will have played. Of the opponents Vandy has faced, Missouri or Tennessee are the closest matches, though Florida slots between them in terms of offense and defense combined, Missouri being better and Tennessee being worse. Missouri beat the Commodores in OT in Columbia and Tennessee beat Vandy in Knoxville in a game that Vandy led by as many as 17. Both were games that Commodore fans felt the team let get away from them.
With regard to tempo free statistics, Vandy holds a comfortable margin at the starting positions. Considering lingering injury issues for Vanderbilt, Florida probably holds a decided bench advantage.
Four Factors: Florida holds a slim edge in TO% and a major advantage in OReb%. Vanderbilt holds wide leads in FTRate and eFG%. Prediction: Vanderbilt wins FTRate comfortably and also eFG%. Florida wins OReb% and TO%.
Traditional Statistics -
Ken Pomeroy predicts a 70-67 Florida win in a game with a pace of 65 (which would seem to suggest that Florida will control the tempo). He gives Vanderbilt a 37% chance of victory. (Have I mentioned I can't wait until Vandy finally gets healthy? It's been 2 months since that was the case...)
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Tipoff is scheduled for 2000 CT and the game will be televised by ESPN (Comcast ch. 11 or 202 HD), though the game will also be available on ESPN3.com. 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.