Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No Surprise: Vanderbilt Receives Zero Attention

Really to no one's surprise, Vanderbilt basketball still manages to receive zero attention from the nation's media, despite an 11-3 record, a six game winning streak in which no team has come within 15 points of us, and a strength of schedule that ranks 4th in the SEC ahead of Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Arkansas, and Auburn (according to ESPN.com's daily RPI report).

More to what I'm getting at, Vanderbilt's SOS ranks 8 spots lower than Kentucky's, which is pretty close. Kentucky is 11-4, with better losses than us to UNC, Miami, Louisville, and Virginia Military.

Let's be honest, the SEC is not a great conference this year, and is arguably not a good one either. Lunardi currently only has 3 teams slotted to be in the tournament from the SEC: Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky. We're among a list of bubble teams in the Daily RPI.

If we want to alert the nation that we're a tournament team this year, we need to beat Kentucky in the head-to-head. I don't think splitting will do, we need to win both games against Kentucky. Winning at Rupp is always a daunting task, one the Commies will try to pull off on Sunday, but it's not impossible by any stretch.

This isn't to say that we don't need to win in the SEC, I would say that 10 wins is going to be necessary to get us to where we want to be. But beating Kentucky both times this season is a good goal for Stallings squad to maintain, because despite the fact that they have more experience, they aren't all that good.

Kentucky is a very imbalanced team, with two primary scorers (albeit excellent scorers) in Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson. By contrast, Vanderbilt does a phenomenal job spreading the wealth. They have four players averaging in double figures (AJ, Taylor, Beal, Tinsley) and a number of players who seem to be "getting it" (Goulbourne, 10 pts in his last two games, McClellan, 10 pts against UMass). But the real story, unlike last year's high scoring affair, has been the defensive side of the ball.

Vanderbilt has allowed more than 70 points only once the entire season (Illinois-Chicago), and has held opponents to less than 60 points in their last three games. This has been without Jamie Graham, who returned to practice this past Monday after playing in Vanderbilt's victorious Music City Bowl. Vanderbilt ranks 4th in the nation in opponent field goal percentage. The defense is only going to get better.

We certainly can beat Kentucky this weekend, and if we do, perhaps we'll garner a bit more respect. But for right now, we'll have to settle for being overlooked.


Anything but Gatorade said...

I covered my thoughts on Vandy basketball on my own page earlier, but Vandy's lack of media coverage can be blamed on the fact that it doesn't play a quality out of conference schedule. Next year's Maui Invitational is a good start, but a home-and-home series with a good team like Stanford or Wake Forest would do a lot to bolster Vandy's media exposure and recognition. Think about it, Stallings.


Bobby O'Shea said...

Anyone out there in VSL Nation able to get 3 tickets for this weekend's tilt for the newlyweds and my new sister-in-law?

Douglas James said...

But not playing good non-conference is also bad luck. UMass was supposed to be better then they are. Illinois was a very strong program a few years ago and is on its way back up and Georgia Tech is usually pretty good. Who else will be playing in hte Maui tournament next year? Anyone know?

Douglas James said...
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Douglas James said...
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Anonymous said...

big wins against teams like St. Francis really don't mean much. it's nice to have a good looking record but play some strong opponents (as has been said before).

i would argue that ilinois is a better team this year than has been expected...but we lost to them so that doesn't really matter.

here's hoping that we can win on the road and go undefeated at home during the SEC season.

Stanimal said...

You're right about that. Our non-conference schedule has been very light.

My point was to highlight that the drop-off between Kentucky and Vanderbilt is not so great, yet Kentucky is considered by much of the media to be part of a three-headed rivalry in the SEC East with Florida and Tennessee, completely neglecting Vanderbilt in that mix.

Based off the past couple of weeks (and much to Boyer in the District's delight), I would say that Arkansas has as much right to feel snubbed as anyone, given their 12-1 record and the fact that they've beaten both Texas and OU, two top ten teams. Although those wins will certainly force people to pay attention.

Tony Arnold said...

I like flying under the radar. In basketball this does not hurt you since you actually play your way into the tournament. In B-ball, early season rankings are for fan smack talking only. Coaches love to be under the radar.

Of course this does not work for football where not ranked early = never ranked high.

Anonymous said...

agreed. early basketball rarely means anything. look at the top 25. by the ncaa tournament at least 8 of these teams will not be ranked and 3 or 4 in the top ten will stumble to the bottom of the 25 or completely out. and losing to illinois, though not a win, is still good if they're good. raising their rpi and a close loss still helps to raise our rpi. though it'd be more if we won, still helps.

Boyer in the District said...

Thanks for the backup, Stan. I was thinking the same thing myself.

Oh well, all that matters for the Hogs is getting into the field of 64. Regardless of when/if we're ever ranked, these two wins against Oklahoma and Texas will look awesome to the selection committee.