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Vanderbilt Basketball Mail Bag #11: Answers to your Questions

You ask, we answer.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Question from VU1970:

Our seeding in the SEC tournament might actually turn out to be important this year. Right now we’re tied for seventh in the conference. Where would we need to land for this to be a big deal? And who are we hoping we won’t have to play? (I for one would love to see someone else dispatch Cackalacka before we’re forced to play them a third time.)

Answers from AoG:

Tom: Probably sixth. Obviously being seeded 11 through 14 means you have to play on Wednesday night, while anywhere from 7 through 10 likely gets you Auburn or Kentucky on Friday. As the 6-seed, you’d get one of the Wednesday night teams on Thursday, and then you’d get a more beatable team on Friday (probably either Tennessee or Arkansas.) That would open up a more plausible path to the semifinals, and give you another Quad 1 win in the process.

Andrew VU ‘04: 6th sounds fair. Right now, we’re 5-6 in conference, tied for 7th with the Gumps and Yellow Shoe, though we would have the tie-breaker over Will Wade’s Fightin’ Child-Bearing Hips. With 7 games to go, let’s just say it’s highly unlikely we can catch any of the top 4 (4th place going to the currently 8-3 Chuggers we play today). So, realistically, anywhere from 5th to 11th.

Question from 92Drummer:

1) Does a win over THEM guarantee another year of the Stackhouse regime?

2) And if so, should I purchase a Derek Mason style coat/vest thingy that will fit Stackhouse so we can re-live that bit of nostalgia?

3) What your favorite way to express the level of SUCKNESS that applies to THEM?

Answers from AoG:

Tom: I think Stackhouse is already going to be the head coach for another year if he wants to be, because (a) he’s in the third year of a six-year deal and (b) the team has shown tangible progress compared to last season. The team isn’t great, but it’s not like they’re going 0-18 in the SEC; hell, there’s a decent chance they finish over .500 overall.

Also I suspect that a Jerry Stackhouse coat/vest thingy will cost you far more than the Derek Mason version did.

Andrew VU ‘04: 1) Yeah, Stack has done enough to justify another year no matter what at this point. Next year, if all the veterans leave and we just look like a trainwreck, then his seat will be scorching hot. 2) Pretty sure all of Stack’s vests are for three piece suits. 3) They drink with their butts. They suck so hard, things fly into every orifice at the rate of light entering a black hole (or Franzia entering a brown one, if you will).

Question from Jared Rifkin:

NIT or NCAA tournament bid this season? Our team is getting healthy. We have the quality wins especially the one over Arkansas at Arkansas looks really good. We have a couple of tough games Auburn and Tennessee. (Auburn is overrated IMO). games against ole miss and aTm which we should win. Leaves 3 other games that are toss ups. UF, MSU, and Alabama all tournament teams. We can play our way into the tournament. This team is getting hot and the weapons are starting to click. Only thing I’m scared of is TOs by the man leading point. Scotty, Thomas or Chatman.

Answers from AoG:

Tom: An NCAA bid seems like a longshot, but might be more doable than you think. Vanderbilt is currently 13-10 overall, 5-6 in the SEC. If they go 5-2 down the stretch, they’ll probably pick up two additional Quad 1 wins (at Tennessee, at Auburn, Alabama, at Mississippi State) on top of the three they already have, and then that will probably set them up with another Quad 1 opportunity in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. So... if they go into Selection Sunday with a 20-13 record that includes six Quad 1 wins... I mean, it’s kind of hard to deny them, right? Of course, actually doing that is the longshot part.

The NIT might be more realistic — I think they get there just by going 4-3 down the stretch and then avoiding a bad loss in the first game of the SEC Tournament.

Andrew VU ‘04: First, let’s look at my answer to last week’s version of that question, and then see how we’re doing on that Panglossian prediction:

All right. Time to go back to the well of “What can we do given the current state of our roster and our remaining games?” We’re currently 11-10 overall (3-6 SEC). That does not a tournament team make. However, we do have both Rodney “Glue Factory” Chatman and Liam “Baby Giraffe” Robbins back. Though Robbins is not remotely at 100% (probably more rust and conditioning than being hindered by injury right now), his interior defense, extra 5 fouls, and potential for adding some low post banging and offensive rebound put backs makes this a very different team. For one, it doesn’t put the entire post defensive responsibility on QMB. As we get close to conference tourney time, teams would have realized all they need to do is triple team SPJ and feed things down low until QMB fouls out, and we would have no answer for that. With Liam back, the latter thing can no longer work. With Chatman back, we have an experienced ball-handler, offense-runner, and all-around glue guy who just knows how to be in perfect position at all times... and, well... teams can no longer do the former strategy, either. I mean, they could, but there would be actual repercussions for doing so.

To do this, to borrow a phrase from the old ladies who live near my mom and are constantly playing cards, we would have to “Shoot the Moon.”

In other words, short of an improbable run in the SEC Tourney in which we win the whole damned thing, we will have to win every game with a 33% win probability or higher from here on out. Here’s what that would look like:

Beat LSU Saturday at home (they might not have PG Xavier Pinson, so this is actually possible), and then put together a nice little streak with wins against Missourah (spits) at home, and The bUTtchuggers in the Wigshpere. That would make us 14-10 (6-6 SEC) with 6 regular season games remaining. Do this, and we’re in business. Win 2 of three and we still have a pulse. Drop all three and we no longer have even an outside shot at the NIT.

But back to the greatest of all possible timelines... say we go on the aforementioned 3 game run. There is no possible way, short of all of their starters spraining ankles during pre-game shoot-around, that we beat this year’s Auburn War Tigers at Toilet Paper Tree Arena. You can write that loss in Sharpie. So, in our best of all possible worlds, we’re now 14-11 (6-7 SEC) with home games against aTm and Ramajama; a trip to Clanga; back home against the Jorts; and closing out the regular season at Ole Piss where the Ox Ford the river. Let’s say we find a way to take 3 of 5 (4 of 5 if we lose one out of the three against Yellow Shoe, Missourah, and the Mullet Luge Chuggers).

As there’s no effect without a cause, we would be in the NIT regardless of what happens in the SEC Tourney if things go as outlined above. Beyond that, at 17 total wins, and 9-9 in conference, with the “injured players return” narrative, we could win 2 games in the SEC tourney and make it really difficult for the NCAA selection committee to ignore us. Of course, win 3 and we’re in.

Well, we’re well on our way with what I identified as “must wins” against Yellow Shoe and Missourah (spits). We’re now 13-10 overall (5-6 SEC) with 7 games remaining on our schedule. 6 of those games could be won (well, I guess all 7 if the War Tigers team that came out against Arky shows up against us). I still stand by the rest of that be-block-quoted answer from last week. Right now, we have an NIT pulse. Win today over the Chuggers in the Wigsphere, and we have an NCAA pulse.

Question from 92Drummer:

Auburn loss - fluke or over-achievement catching up to them?

*Editor’s note: This refers to the War Tigers losing to Arky this week.

Answers from AoG:

Tom: A bit of a fluke in terms of how it actually happened, though they’d been playing with fire the past couple of weeks so they probably had a loss like that coming. I would also like to take the opportunity to point out that Vanderbilt is the only team to beat Arkansas in Fayetteville this season.

Andrew VU ‘04: I wouldn’t call it a fluke, as Arky is peaking at the right time. I mean, in losing their opening 3 conference games against Clanga, Us, and aTm respectively, Arky had the look of a team in a rebuilding year (and maybe even one who might have to start a new coaching hire search). Since then? Well, they’re 9-0 (8-0 in conference) with impressive wins over LSU, West Virginny in the SEC-BigXII Matchup, and of course, this week’s upset win over Auburn. Of course, the 6 other SEC wins in that run has been against the bottom feeders in the conference, but still, beating everyone you play is usually a good sign that a team has figured things out. It’s an upset, for sure, but not a fluke.

Question from VandyFan1:

R we going to finish the season with a winning record? And how far do we make it in the sec tournament?

Answers from AoG:

Tom: I think so. I think we can beat Texas A&M and Florida at home, and Ole Miss in Oxford to end the season. That would put us at 16-14, thus giving us a winning record even if we lose our first SEC Tournament game. We’ll also probably avoid Wednesday night, so even an exit in our first game means we get to Thursday night.

Andrew VU ‘04: Will answer, but 99.9% of me wants to reject this outright due to the Sk8r Boi style spelling of the verb “are.” 1) Yes. 2) Impossible to know before we see the seeding. That said, I’m thinking the most likely outcome is 1-2 wins. The worst possible outcome is 0 wins. I do not see us exceeding 3 wins. In other words, I don’t see a 2012 run in this squad being all that likely.

*Guest Responder VandyLuke, as we are in full support of his Vandy Lifestyle: I’m finishing a whiskey and typing on a message board at 11pm so why not keep answering the mail bag like I work here.

Yes. Yes we do. We finish with a winning record. (Please do not include SEC Tournament first round exit in this analysis).

Sir, this is an Arby’s.