The Vanderbilt Commodores will enter SEC play with an 8-4 record that they will feel should be much better. Their only real non-conference loss came against the Saint Louis Billikens. Next to Saint Louis, they competed in losses to the Butler Bulldogs, Texas Longhorns and Providence Friars.
Their effort in non-conference play is a surprise because Vanderbilt lost three of their best players from last year coming into this season, Kendren Johnson, Sheldon Jeter and Kevin Bright. In reality, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that a team coached by Kevin Stallings exceeded expectations; he’s been doing it for years. Seniors Kyle Fuller and Rod Odom have played outstanding basketball as well as they try to give this team success in their final seasons as college basketball players.
However, as conference play starts with Vanderbilt facing the Alabama Crimson Tide in a game between the SEC team that’s exceeding expectations and the SEC team that’s the biggest disappointment, the Commodores should feel extremely confident. Vanderbilt could win this game and if they win the games they are supposed to, they will finish with a decent enough record to make it into the NIT.
The Commodores aren’t a top team in the SEC talent-wise, but they play good team basketball that can lead to upsets. Don’t expect them to go to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but expect one or two surprising upsets, especially at home, that will give Stallings and his Commodores a lot of confidence going into next season. Now, all Vanderbilt needs is to have a season with more returning talent.