Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:09 pm

Source: Vandy trio passing on NBA Draft

Vanderbilt standouts John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and Festus Ezeli have decided not to enter the NBA Draft, a source told CBSSports.com on Wednesday. That means all three will return to college and cement the Commodores in the top five of the CBSSports.com preseason Top 25 (and one).

An official announcement is expected soon.

Jenkins (19.5 points per game), Taylor (13.7) and Ezeli (13.0) were Vandy's top three scorers last season. Their return should allow the Commodores to compete with Kentucky in the SEC East, and it gives the Nashville-based school a realistic shot at the Final Four considering every relevant player is rejoining the roster. Vanderbilt won 23 games last season and finished one game behind UK in the SEC East.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 9:56 am

UNC, UK, then what?

Only Terrence Jones and/or Brandon Knight returning to Kentucky will keep North Carolina from being No. 1 in the preseason polls, and even then it'll be debatable. For now, though, I'm operating under the assumption that both will enter and remain in the NBA Draft, which would make my preseason top five look like this:
  1. North Carolina
  2. Kentucky
  3. Syracuse
  4. Ohio State
  5. Vanderbilt
The one thing that could change this -- besides me simply changing my mind -- would be Vandy's Jeff Taylor, John Jenkins or Fest Ezeli turning pro, but there's no indication any of that will happen. Regardless, most preseason rankings will have the same two teams at the top. After that is where the debate will begin.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 7:53 pm

The Poll Attacks

Alabama got zero votes in last week's Coaches poll. Then the Crimson Tide barely beat Auburn, lost to Ole Miss and ... got six points in the Coaches poll. Not sure how that happens. But it sure does make the Poll Attacks simple.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll:
Florida is 22-6 overall, 11-3 in the SEC, ranked 14th in the AP poll, 14th in the Coaches poll and 16th in the Top 25 (and one). The Gators are 4-2 against top-25 RPI schools, 9-2 against top-50 RPI schools, 13-3 against top-100 RPI schools and in possession of a two-game lead in the SEC East.

And yet Izzy Gould from The Birmingham News left them off his AP ballot.

But he's got Kentucky 15th and Vanderbilt 21st.

Which means he ranked two SEC East schools -- and neither of them are SEC East-leading Florida.

Beyond that, he ranked Virginia Tech 24th.

Which means he ranked a Virginia Tech team that's 1-3 against top-25 RPI schools, 2-5 against top-50 RPI schools and 7-5 against top-100 RPI schools, but didn't rank a Florida team that's 4-2 against top-25 RPI schools, 9-2 against top-50 RPI schools and 13-3 against top-100 RPI schools. Needless to say, Izzy was blown away by the Hokies' win over Duke. I mean, really, really, really blown away. Most impressive thing he's ever seen, apparently.

Coaches poll: If the NCAA tournament started today -- and it doesn't, so relax -- Alabama might sneak in as an at-large. Or it might not. The point is that it would be close, and if you're that close to missing the NCAA tournament in late February then you probably shouldn't be getting votes for a Top 25 poll ... especially when you're coming off a loss to Ole Miss.

Still, Alabama got six points in Monday's coaches poll.

And that's not even the strangest part.

The strangest part is that the Crimson Tide got zero points in last week's poll when they were 18-8 overall, 10-2 in the SEC. Then they barely beat Auburn and lost to Ole Miss, and somehow that convinced coaches to vote for them. Strange. Bottom line, Alabama shouldn't have been on anybody's ballot last week or this week, but it's impossible to omit the Crimson Tide last week and add them this week. And by impossible, I mean idiotic and inexplicable.

Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 2:42 pm

Huge game for Alabama on tap at Vandy

Can the team that lost to St. Peter's be the SEC champion?

Can a team that lost to Iowa be the SEC's best?

The Alabama Crimson Tide have won 10 of their past 11 games and jumped to 7-1 in the league to make a strong case. They own wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, and two wins over the Mississippi State team that beat Florida. But they remain unranked because of some questionable non-league losses, which is proof that nobody really knows what to make of Anthony Grant's second season in Tuscaloosa.

That's why tonight's game is huge.

You can continue to doubt Alabama if you want.

For the record, I still do.

But if the Crimson Tide somehow beat Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym then we'll have no choice but to take them seriously. Vanderbilt is ranked 23rd and good, and winning at Memorial is typically a chore. So while I don't usually get too excited about a game between two schools ranked outside of the top 20, I'm most certainly looking forward to tonight's game that tips at 9 ET. If Vanderbilt wins, I'll continue to think what I think about Alabama. But if the Crimson Tide move to 8-1 in the SEC, well, I think that'll be my cue to start coming around.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 2, 2011 2:16 am
Edited on: February 2, 2011 2:18 am

Kenny Boynton has Kevin Stallings' back

Vanderbilt's John Jenkins shot an air ball in the final minute of Tuesday's 65-61 overtime loss at Florida.

Or did he?

"He doesn't shoot many air balls," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "I've watched him play for a long time and I haven't seen many air balls come off that kid's hand."

In other words, Stallings thought Kenny Boynton fouled Jenkins.

He didn't say that, exactly.

But he hinted it.

"I'm pretty sure there was a reason there was an air ball," Stallings said, and I have no idea if these comments will draw the ire of the SEC office. But if Stallings does get a phone call, he should advise the league to ring Boynton. Oddly (and admirably), the so-called offender acknowledged the uncalled foul.

"I think I jumped too high and he kind of tried to draw it," Boynton said. "It was a foul, but they missed it."
Posted on: February 1, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 11:42 am

Are Vols about to take control of SEC East?

There are two SEC basketball games scheduled for tonight.

They are:
  • Kentucky at Ole Miss
  • Vanderbilt at Florida
Kentucky and Florida are the favorites in those matchups, meaning both should win. But if Ole Miss and Vandy pull off upsets, every SEC East team except Tennessee will have at least three league losses. Either way, the Vols are 4-2 in the SEC with two winnable games (at Auburn on Thursday/vs. Alabama on Saturday) scheduled this week. That means they should be 6-2 in the league after the weekend. And because Kentucky and Florida play each other late Saturday, the Vols will likely be either tied for first in the loss column in the SEC East with one other school (Florida or Kentucky) or all alone in first place of the SEC East when Bruce Pearl makes his permanent return to the sidelines next Tuesday for a nationally televised game with Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

Who would've guessed that after the Vols started 0-2 in the league?
Posted on: January 8, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2011 7:32 pm

Life on the road isn't easy, even for good teams

A Saturday schedule with just one game between ranked schools seemed boring on the surface.

That's why I stayed home this weekend.

If only No. 9 Missouri, No. 10 Kentucky, No. 17 Kansas State, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 19 UCF and No. 22 Vanderbilt could've done the same. Maybe then they wouldn't be six ranked teams that just endured losses to unranked teams in hostile environments. Yes, it was one of those days in college basketball. Every time I flipped the channel some ranked team was going down on the road. The result was an afternoon of court-stormings, and Sunday night's Top 25 (and one) is sure to be a shuffled mess.

For those who missed it, here you go:
  • Colorado 89, No. 9 Missouri 76
  • Georgia 77, No. 10 Kentucky 70
  • Oklahoma State 76, No. 17 Kansas State 62
  • Penn State 66, No. 18 Michigan State 62
  • Houston 76, No. 19 UCF 71
  • South Carolina 83, No. 22 Vanderbilt 75 (OT)
Georgia is the only unranked team of that bunch that'll likely break into the updated rankings, so let's not pretend this is the day that validates Penn State, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Houston or South Carolina. Yes, Colorado (12-4) and Oklahoma State (13-2) are both solid. But Saturday's results say less about them than they say about how difficult it is, even for nationally ranked teams, to go on the road and win in conference play.

(Worth noting: No. 4 Syracuse nearly lost Saturday at Seton Hall, and Seton Hall is 7-9.)

No. 6 San Diego State, No. 13 Georgetown and No. 20 Illinois are among the ranked teams on the road against unranked teams next Saturday. My advice: Don't be shocked -- or even mildly surprised -- if some of them (or all of them) experience the same fate that Missouri, UK, KSU, Michigan State, UCF and Vandy experienced this Saturday. If it happens, it won't necessarily mean they were overrated. It'll just mean they had to travel.
Posted on: February 20, 2010 4:05 pm

Vandy over UK won't be an upset (if it happens)

NASHVILLE -- I'm about to pop over to Memorial Gym, where No. 17 Vanderbilt will play No. 2 Kentucky. People keep asking if I think Vandy can "upset" John Calipari's team, and I keep telling them there's no question the Commodores can win. Am I predicting it? No. But Vandy is absolutely capable, and if it happens it won't be an "upset."

Not technically, at least.

Sportsbook.com has this as a pick'em game.

Kentucky is not favored.

So remember that tonight as you watch the broadcast, and when you hear people talk about a possible upset just remember those people are basing that on rankings, but not on reality. In reality, Vanderbilt has just as good a chance to win this game as Kentucky. Who knows how it'll play out? But it won't be an upset regardless of the outcome.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com