Did you miss your opportunity to say goodbye to James Siakam, Josh Henderson, and Shelby Moats at Senior Night? Well, I have some good news for you.
Vanderbilt will reopen Memorial Gym on Friday to host South Dakota State in round two of the NIT. Siakam, Henderson, and Moats had said goodbye to the arena's baseline benches before a win over Mississippi State two weeks ago, but now they'll have the chance to hit the raised hardwood one last time before graduating. They'll be joined by a roster of underclassmen that are looking to build on the Commodores' first postseason win since 2013.
Vandy topped Saint Mary's Wednesday night to open NIT play with a win and help wash the bad taste of a come-from-ahead loss to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. They'll host a South Dakota State team that earned the biggest victory of their season when they upset #1 seed Colorado State on the road. Both programs will be facing short turnaround thanks to the NIT's nutty scheduling, so athleticism and conditioning will be major factors for the winning team tomorrow night.
The Jackrabbits won a whole lot of games in 2014-15, but rarely against legitimate competition. They have defeated just three teams in the RPI's top 150 - a number that increased by 50 percent when they upset CSU earlier this week. The rest of their resume is littered with opponents like the lesser Dakotas, Nebraska-Omaha, Western Illinois, and Idaho State. While the Jackrabbits are talented, they have also tended to play down to the level of their competition. Four of their wins over teams that failed to crack the top 300 were decided by four points or fewer. Four more teams from the shallow end of the Division I competition pool (RPI of 200+) beat SDSU this season.
Even if Vandy wins, it'll likely be the final game of the season in Memorial Gym. Favored seeds Rhode Island and Stanford both held serve in the first round of the NIT this week, and the winner of their matchup will have first dibs on hosting next week's round of eight matchup. There's a chance that scheduling conflicts keep the lights on in Nashville, but Friday's game will probably be your last chance to see James Siakam pull down rebounds at Memorial Gym.
Will he leave victorious? Let's take a deeper look at the Jackrabbits to find out.
|G -||Wade Baldwin IV||9.1||4||4.4|
|G -||Riley LaChance||12.6||3.2||2.9|
|F -||Jeff Roberson||4.6||3.1||1.2|
|F -||James Siakam||8.9||5.8||0.6|
|C -||Damian Jones||14.6||6.5||0.7|
|F -||Luke Kornet||8.5||3.5||1.1|
|G/F -||Matthew Fisher-Davis||6.8||2.3||1.3|
|G -||Shelton Mitchell||4.2||1.9||3.2|
|South Dakota State|
|G -||Reed Tellinghausen||8.4||3.4||0.9|
|G -||Deondre Parks||14.2||4||1.9|
|G -||Jake Bittle||10||4.4||2.7|
|G -||George Marshall
|F -||Cody Larson||13.8||7.1||1.9|
|G -||Keaton Moffitt||3.3||2.5||1.4|
|G -||Zach Horstman||4.2||2.4||0.5|
|F -||Ian Theisen||2.6||1.9||0.2|