Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Valuable is the Bye for Vanderbilt?

Vandy-Montana asks this very good, and thought provoking question in the previous thread, and I thought it would be good fodder. While historically teams with byes have come out a little flat, any team would much rather only have to beat 3 teams rather than 4 to win the conference tournament. That aside, looking at it from purely a match-up perspective, given where teams will likely be slotted, getting the 2 seed from the East seems very advantageous.

Based on the way things look now, the 2 seed from the East should have a much easier road to the conference championship. #2 in the East will face the winner of South Carlina vs. Ole Miss/Arkansas. While the Razorbacks have been a thorn in Vanderbilt's side in the SECT, I find it hard to believe they catch lightening in a bottle again against us. Ole Miss doesn't scare me, and neither does South Carolina.

If the #2 East seed advances, they will play the winner of Alabama and whomever the #4 team in the East ends up being (this could be either Kentucky, Georgia, or Tennessee if Vanderbilt sows up the #2) because I don't see LSU or Auburn beating anyone. Alabama will be a desperate team and now probably has to win the tournament (or beat a Tournament-bound team and advance to the finals) to get an invite. On a neutral floor, I give Vanderbilt the edge.

If the Commodores finish 3rd (or god-forbid 5th in the East), their road to the SEC Championship probably goes through Florida or Mississippi State (or both). The Gators are what they are, but Mississippi State scares me for a few reasons. First and foremost, they've got talent. They have drastically underachieved this season, but they have a very talented squad that can win games. Second, they always play well in the SEC Tournament. Which leads me to my 3rd point, they have to win to get into the Field of 68. That fact, coupled with their bye, leads me to believe this MSU team could head to Atlanta both focused and dangerous. I don't want any part of that. Arguably, getting seeded 5 is better than getting seeded 3rd (expect for the fact that it means we lost to UF and would enter the tournament losers of 3 of 4). The 5th seed from the East will play either Ole Miss or Arkansas, two teams I discussed above. Assuming they get out of the 1st round, it's a rematch against the Gators, a team that has clearly overachieved, but that has consistently found ways to win all season long. If we can avoid the Gators until the conference finals, all the better, although personally, I'd much rather see them than Mississippi State.

So what does it all mean? As far as I can tell, getting the bye is very important if this team wants to win the SEC Tournament (a very worthy goal, and one who's importance is not to be discounted). While getting the 2 seed is ideal, given the potential match-ups, I think we are better off finishing 4th in the East than 3rd. From a pure "match-up" prospective, I think finishing 5th is better than 3rd. That aside, falling from 2nd to 5th would be a pretty epic collapse, and have this team seriously trending in the wrong direction.


Anonymous said...

No way we lose to UF this weekend. I think the guys are furious about letting the UK game get away from them and will come out with the intensity we have been looking for all season for 40 minutes.


Vandy-Montana said...

I think this tournament is WIDE open. I think a bye is the best scenerio, but won't be upset if we don't get it. I'm not huge on playing 4 games in 4 days, but if need be I think we are deep enough to do it. I just wish I had SEC network...

Bobby O'Shea said... should get you all the games, Vandy-Montata

Andrew Smith said...

The only value in the bye is the rest, and I'm not sure how much it matters for 20-year-olds.

Anyone done a study of how teams that play four conference tourney games do in the NCAAs vs. teams that play two or three? I'm sure some mathematically inclined gamblers have but I've never seen any numbers.

As for the easier road to the SEC Championship, who cares? If this team can't beat whatever the SEC throws at it -- and win pretty easily -- it's not going too far in the NCAA tourney and isn't very good.

Perhaps that's too strong. This is obviously an up and down team that could lose to South Carolina and then make the 8, but it's unlikely. I see two plausible scenarios:

1. We'll either grow from the UK loss and pull it together for a consistently strong stretch run, in which case we'll win the SEC tournament no matter who we face.

2. We'll keep playing one-on-one-off games and lose early in both tourneys. Because when we're bad -- and not playing at home -- we will lose to whomever we face.

Either way, I don't see the competition mattering much to whether we win or lose. It's just how we play.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, the most important thing is VU wins Saturday. This will have more weight with the NCAA committee than anything else. I agree, if we show up we win, if we decide to play for only 20 minutes we will not.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, the most important thing is VU wins Saturday. This will have more weight with the NCAA committee than anything else. I agree, if we show up we win, if we decide to play for only 20 minutes we will not.