TV Station: Monday, Nov. 23, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Arena: Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, HI
Line: Vanderbilt (-13.5)
After two relatively easy wins to begin the season, the No. 17 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores survived an overtime scare at the hands of Stony Brook, 79-72. Damion Jones, who is arguably one of the best big men in the country, looked completely lost, and Wade Baldwin IV had to take over offensively for the Commodores. Baldwin’s ability to show leadership was massive in that win, and it could be even bigger as a much needed factor Kevin Stallings’ squad has been in desperate need of over the last few seasons.
That being said, the Commodores should not be too worried heading into their Monday afternoon matchup with the St. John’s Red Storm at the Maui Invitational.
The Red Storm have won their first three games of the season, but looked shaky against a Rutgers Scarlet Knights squad that was picked to finish dead last in the Big 10. Freshman guard Federico Mussini has been absolutely fantastic to begin the season, but Yankuba Sima’s defense inside will be the real key to a St. John’s upset.
Although many will point to Vandy’s narrow escape at home to Stony Brook as a sign of weakness, the Seawolves actually look like a very talented team that could possibly win the American East. St. John’s will have a chance at an upset, but I don’t see that happening with a strong Vanderbilt team who wants to prove a point with a big win on ESPN.
Vanderbilt is still my pick to win the SEC Tournament; it’s time for them to play like it against a decent team.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 76, St. John’s 62