VANDERBILT COMMODORES (15-5, 3-3 in SEC)
at FLORIDA GATORS (16-5, 5-2 in SEC)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Florida -3.5, Total: 139
Blame it on looking ahead. Blame it on getting caught in a trap game. Or if you’re Milli Vanilli, blame it on the rain. Either way, Vanderbilt and Florida will enter its SEC East showdown of ranked teams (Coaches Poll only, Florida is not ranked in AP) on Tuesday night coming off losses that marked their worst performances of the year in conference play. The Commodores will be trying to make it two straight over the Gators at the O’Connell Center, and the Gators will be trying to make it two straight SEC home wins, after blitzing the Arkansas Razorbacks 75-43 back on January 22. With each team coming off of a loss, and a recent history of competitive games in this rivalry, I can guarantee that this is the only basketball game in the nation Tuesday night that will not feature two things: snow on the ground outside, and kindness on the court inside. This will be war. Odds.
Vandy is coming off a home defeat to Arkansas, 89-78, in a game that the Commodores gave up the most points it has allowed all season, while at the same time allowing the opposition to shoot 57.4% from the field, the best FG% the opponent has shot against the Commodores all season, and just the second time this year they have allowed a team to shoot better than 50%. Additionally, Arkansas outrebounded Vanderbilt 30-22, a surprising disparity, considering that the Commodores average 39.0 RPG (32nd best in Division I). Prior to the loss, Vanderbilt had been holding conference opponents to 39.6 FG% over its first five SEC contests. After the loss to the Razorbacks, Vandy coach Kevin Stallings was literally, at a loss to find the words to describe his team’s performance. “It was disappointing the lack of, I don’t even know what I want to call it, the lack of something,” Stallings said. Stallings would like to see his team’s defense hit the way-back machine to last March 2, when Vandy held the Gators to 36.5% shooting from the floor, and 2-of-13 from beyond the arc, en route to a 64-60 win that snapped an eight-game losing skid in Gainesville. So we know the Commodores know how to defend, and we know they know how to defend the Gators, the question is: can they do it again Tuesday night? Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins (19.1 PPG) is averaging a league-high 21.8 PPG in SEC play this season after scoring 24 against Arkansas. Scores.
If Florida shoots the way it did the last time it played at home, 30-for-60 in the aforementioned 32-point shellacking of Arkansas, it may not matter who the opponent is. If more recent history is in play, then the Gators might be in trouble. In going down 71-64 to 11-9 Mississippi State, the Gators couldn’t drop it in the ocean if they were leaning over the deck of a cruise ship. They were 39.7% from the floor, 23.8 % (5-for-21) from beyond the arc, and a horrid 47.4% from the line. If this game is close down the stretch, beware of the bricks. At 65.3%, the Gators are the second worst FT shooting team in the conference. On the other hand, Vanderbilt from the stripe is 74.7%. Advantage, Commodores. Will the Commodores hold the advantage all night long? We will see. Top scorer Erving Walker averages 14.4 PPG, but was only 1-for-9 in last March’s four-point loss.
Although the Commodores are 0-5 ATS in SEC play, they are 5-2 ATS in road games this season, holding opponents 39.0% FG away from home. The Gators are 7-10 ATS overall including a brutal 2-7 ATS mark at home. They are also 2-10 ATS as the favored team. This FoxSheets trend also supports picking Vanderbilt to pull off the mild upset.
Play Against – Home favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points (FLORIDA) – after beating the spread by 24 or more points total in their last three games against opponent after going over the total by 18 or more points total in their last three games. (75-38 since 1997.) (66.4%, +33.2 units. Rating = 2*).
Five of the past six meetings at O’Connell Center have finished Under the total and the FoxSheets also lean towards the Under for Tuesday’s game. Las Vegas odds.
Donovan is 15-3 UNDER (83.3%, +11.7 Units) in home games off an upset loss to a conference rival as a favorite as the coach of FLORIDA. The average score was FLORIDA 72.7, OPPONENT 62.3 – (Rating = 3*).