Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vanderbilt = Overrated?

The national media isn't sold on Shan Foster and the Commodores. Lunardi says they're a 6 seed and dropping. Mandel projects Vandy as a 5 seed as does bracketography. Vegas Watch agrees, and takes it even further, calling the Dores "disgustingly overseeded."
But, if you ask Vanderbilt fans about their team's chances in the Big Dance, and you'll get a completely different story. So, who's right? Let's take a look...

The case against Vanderbilt

1) No Memorial = No Good
The Commodores are ridiculously good at home as their 19-0 record indicates. But, when you take away the Memorial Maniacs and put the benches where they belong, Vanderbilt is a pedestrian 6-6. And if you take away their neutral site victories over Utah State and Bradley, the Commodores have just four, unimpressive road wins: 77-70 at Toledo, 91-85 at DePaul (in overtime), 67-59 at Georgia and 66-65 at South Carolina. Ouch.
And some of their losses have been brutal: 80-60 at Tennessee, 86-64 at Florida, 74-58 at Ole Miss and, most recently, 78-73 at Alabama.

2) Soft Schedule
Other than their victory over Tennessee, what win do the Commodores have to brag about? Sure, they beat UMass and Wake Forest and South Alabama (in overtime), but those were home games they were supposed to win.

3) SEC = Weak
Let's be realistic. The Commodores finished in third place in the Eastern Division of a mediocre conference. Take a look at my power rankings and you'll see that the SEC is full of awful teams. Even bubble teams like Arkansas, Florida and Ole Miss have plenty of flaws. So to finish 10-6 is fine, but to expect anything better than a 5 or 6 seed is just crazy...

The Case for Vanderbilt

1) Experience Matters
Remember that these guys were a Jeff Green travel away from advancing to the Elite Eight a year ago. Three starters (Shan Foster, Alex Gordon and Ross Neltner) and three bench players return from that squad so don't expect nerves to be a factor on the big stage. You can't say that about a lot of teams.

2) "The Truth"
Senior Shan Foster is flat-out ridiculous. The unquestioned SEC Player of the Year and possible All-American recently dropped 42 on Miss. State in a historic performance, and with his size (6'6") and release (ball above his head), Foster is virtually impossible to guard. If he gets hot, it will be tough for any team to stop him.

3) The Awesome Aussie
Freshman center A.J. Ogilvy gives the Commodores the post presence they've been missing. While not too athletic, he's very skilled, uses his body well and does a great job getting to the foul line. If Vandy doesn't shoot well from outside, it still has a chance to win with Ogilvy.
Note: Disregard this point if Ogilvy plays like a bitch and picks up two stupid fouls in the first 30 seconds.

4) Solid guard play
Good tourney teams usually have strong guards and Vandy has just that. Point guard Jermaine Beal leads the SEC in assist to turnover ratio and Alex Gordon is a solid (albeit streaky) shooter. And I hear that Foster kid is pretty good too.

5) Coaching
Kevin Stallings is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. He's a great motivator and always solid with the X's and O's so you can bet that he will have his team fully prepared to play come next Thursday or Friday.

A compelling case can be made for both sides, which is why I think the Commodores' performance on a neutral site in the SEC Tournament is so critical.

What do you guys think? Is Vandy, with its No. 10 RPI, poised for another Sweet 16 run or destined to be upset by a No. 12 seed?

4 comments:

kurt w said...

Cash me in as a believer in the Commodores. I've been on the bandwagon from very early on, and believe that with the talent that Vanderbilt has, they are set to make another surprise run to the Sweet 16.

Eric Silver said...

agreed... but a sweet 16 run will only be a surprise to people who don't know much about college basketball. How we fly so far under the radar, considering all the team has accomplished, is beyond me.

Jarred Amato said...

Kurt, thanks so much for the comment. i'm a big fan of your blog and i plan on sending vandy fans your way. your knowledge for the game is truly outstanding...i'll talk to you soon.

Anonymous said...

"Disregard this post if A.J. plays like a bitch and gets two fouls in the first 30 seconds."

That is hillarious