The Vanderbilt Commodores host the #18 / 15 Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday night in historic Memorial Gym. In a season full of tests, this is the next opportunity for the Commodores to prove they are approaching the lofty preseason expectations. A win over the Bulldogs would most likely be the release mechanism for the catapult that is prepped to launch the Dores back into the Top 25 rankings, hopefully to stay. But we mustn't get ahead of ourselves. State is no slouch. They have some very talented pieces and certainly aren't ranked undeservedly.
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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 18 total games, 11 at home, 2 on neutral courts, and 5 on the road against an average KenPom rated opponent of 127.5. Mississippi State has played 19 total games, 13 at home (1 being "semi-home"), 2 on neutral courts, and 4 on the road (1 being "semi-away"), against an average rated D-I opponent of 149.0. Based on their performances to date, Kenpom rates Vanderbilt to be the third most efficient offensive and seventh most efficient defensive team that the Bulldogs will have played. Mississippi State rates as the fifth most efficient offensive team and the seventh 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, Mississippi State most closely resembles North Carolina State. Vanderbilt most closely resembles West Virginia.
Looking solely at the tempo free statistics, Vanderbilt has a slight edge at the starting positions. Mississippi State 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: Mississippi State has a slight edge in turnover percentage. Offensive rebounding looks to be a draw, which could go either way depending on how the ball bounces. Vanderbilt's offense generates a signficantly larger number of free throw opportunities, but State is very good about defending without fouling (which probably has to do with their 97.6 defensive efficiency). Vanderbilt has a slight edge here. Vanderbilt also has an edge with regards to effective field goal percentage. Unless Mississippi State plays defense with a new-found aggression, I think it will be hard for Mississippi State to keep up with the Commodores offensively, particularly if Vanderbilt starts hitting from outside. Prediction: Vanderbilt wins eFG%, FTRate, and OReb%.
Ken Pomeroy predicts a 74-66 Vanderbilt win in a game with a tempo of 67. He rates Vanderbilt's win percentage at 77%.
Traditional Statistics -- Mississippi State Bulldogs
Tipoff is scheduled for 1800 CT and the game will be available on ESPN2 (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.