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Anchor Drop, February 21, 2018: A vacated title?

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Basketball loses to LSU, baseball takes the opener from Presbyterian.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Let’s start off with the worst news: Vanderbilt’s basketball team lost to LSU 88-78, in spite of getting 26 points from Riley LaChance and 20 from Jeff Roberson. Over the last ten games, Roberson is averaging 20.1 ppg and LaChance is averaging 19.1 ppg. I like Vanderbilt’s incoming recruiting class, but let’s not downplay the fact that Vanderbilt is losing basically all of this year’s offensive production.

The baseball team beat Presbyterian 7-1 behind five scoreless innings from starter Maddux Conger, who got his first win of the season, and a 3-for-4 performance by freshman CF Pat DeMarco. Small sample size and all, but DeMarco’s triple-slash line is currently a ridiculous .647/.684/.824.

Vanderbilt football had a disappointing 5-7 season in 2017, but the Commodores were the only FBS school in Tennessee to see an attendance increase with their official attendance going from an average of 31,242 in 2016 to 31,341 in 2017.

That increase can be mostly explained by visiting fans. Vanderbilt didn’t have a single sellout in 2016, but sold out two games in 2017 — Kansas State and Alabama. You might recall that Kansas State brought a lot of its fans to the West End, and Alabama, well...

Also, the Georgia game drew 36,282. But the Missouri game — late in the season, and against a school without a large traveling fan base — drew just 22,910 fans, which was somehow less than the Alabama A&M game.

With all that said, as much as people want to chastise Vanderbilt fans for not showing up to games, attendance declines are a trend across college football. The SEC as a whole saw a 3.14 percent decline in average attendance from 2016 to 2017.

Today, Vanderbilt completes its two-game, midweek series against Presbyterian, going against the Blue Hose again at 4:00 PM CT on the SEC Network+ and WatchESPN.

Off the West End

The NCAA denied Louisville’s appeal yesterday, meaning that all of Louisville’s wins from 2011-15, including the 2013 championship, are now vacated. The national championship banner came down shortly after the ruling.

I have a few thoughts on this. A rather popular opinion is that everybody remembers that they actually won the title that year, and so vacating the title is meaningless. But that only considers people who remember 2013. If you don’t remember it, your first experience with Louisville’s 2013 national championship will also include the knowledge that it was vacated, and maybe you’ll learn why it was vacated as well. When I was a kid, I remember finding out that Memphis State made the 1985 Final Four — only I also promptly learned that the NCAA also vacated that appearance.

Another opinion is that this is just a slap on the wrist, because vacating wins in the official record book doesn’t actually mean anything. I think this mostly ignores that there are financial penalties involved; Louisville has to return its revenue share from all the vacated NCAA Tournament games from 2011-15. That’s a not-insignificant sum for a 16-seed that gets bounced in the first round, never mind a national champion. What’s more, in most previous cases where a program was found to have used an ineligible player, they had to vacate some wins. Louisville had to vacate a national title. That’s a little bit different.

About 3 in 10,000 high school basketball players go on to play in the NBA. At Kinston High School in North Carolina, that number is about 1 out of 52.7.

Hel-lo, Ole Miss, my old friend. We’re tied for last with you again.

Lindsey Vonn took the bronze in her final Olympic ski run. Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall ended a 42-year United States cross-country skiing medal drought by taking the gold. Still, the U.S. is in a tie for fourth with France and the Netherlands in the medal count, behind Norway, Germany, and Canada. And they won’t be winning a medal in men’s hockey after being eliminated by the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.