SEC action here between two teams having disappointing seasons as the Vanderbilt Commodores host the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt is in last place in the conference and they sit at 9-18, while Missouri enters at 13-14. Needless to say, it doesn't look like either team is going dancing. Oddsmakers have the Tigers as a slight favorite for this one, which will be televised by ESPNU.
Missouri Takes Big Step BackThis certainly isn't the season that Missouri envisioned themselves having. Two years ago they were very good and made the NCAA tournament as an 8-seed, and they took a bit of a step back last year. This year they have taken a much bigger step back, entering this one at 13-14 and towards the bottom of the SEC. They have been up and down but one thing has been consistently clear, which is that they've played pretty well at home and terribly on the road. For example, just a handful of games ago they beat Arkansas at home, and in their most recent game, they lost to Arkansas on the road by double digits.
They're just 1-9 on the road this season, and their last road win came all the way back on December 7th. Many of the road games have gotten ugly, like when they lost by 27 to Mississippi State, by 23 to West Virginia, by 22 to South Carolina, or by 17 to Texas A&M. They've been mediocre on both sides of the ball, and they aren't very efficient on offense. They only have one guy who shoots it well from beyond the arc, and he is injured. That's junior guard Mark Smith, who has missed the last few weeks of action. Nobody else in their rotation is shooting better than 33 percent from downtown, which really holds the offense back. The defense isn't lighting it up either, and they just gave up 78 points to a mediocre Arkansas offense in their most recent game.
Vanderbilt Terrible AgainSpeaking of teams that aren't having the seasons that they imagined, Vanderbilt certainly qualifies. They've been an abject disaster, entering this one at just 9-18 overall and 1-13 in conference play. Vanderbilt was just as bad last year, but this still has to feel like somewhat of a disappointment considering they've clearly made no progress. All of that being said, there are some reasons to believe that things aren't quite as bad as they seem.
They have lost a ton of close games, and could easily have a significantly better record. In their most recent game they lost to Georgia by only two points, and in their game, before that, they lost to Tennessee by four on the road. That's been a theme all season, and as such it might not surprise you to learn that advanced analytics site kenpom.com has them rated as one of the unluckiest teams in all of college basketball. Like Missouri, they also have stark home-road splits. A couple of home games ago they beat a ranked LSU team while dropping 99 points in the process.
In their home game before that, they only lost to Florida by six, another one of the best teams in the conference. They also beat a good Davidson team at home earlier this season, and they still draw a pretty decent home crowd despite the fact they haven't been very successful recently. Their leading scorer Aaron Nesmith went down with a foot injury a little over a month ago, but junior guard Saben Lee has been stepping up big-time in his absence recently. Lee is now averaging a robust 17.9 points per game, and he has scored at least 20 in five of their past six games.
- 1-7 ATS in their last 8 road games
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win