Gamecock Nation should certainly be worried about whether or not we can muster the fortitude to play a great game tonight after playing our game of the year against Kentucky and before we take on Tennessee on national television. This game is the definition of a trap game--it's a game that we should win, but it's sandwiched in between bigger games and it's against a team that is definitely capable of beating us if we don't come to play. It's also being played in a place known for a decided home-court advantage and many a bizarre outcome. Finally, after a humiliating loss to UGA, the Commies will be playing for pride. They're a dangerous team that has much less to lose than we do.
All of that said, we match up fairly well against Vandy. To be sure, A. J. Ogilvy will be a problem for us now that he's close to full speed. We will have to keep him off the glass and try to limit his effectiveness from the post. At the same time, though, Vandy is a team that has been susceptible to the full court press this year. Expect to see us get some easy baskets off turnovers. Moreover, the Commodores, like many other teams, don't have the defensive presence in the backcourt to contain Devan Downey. Defensively, we have to try to stay on Vandy's guards and keep them from getting hot, as a barrage of threes could open things up for Ogilvy down low. However, Vanderbilt doesn't have the benefit of Shan Foster this year. Their guards are capable but have yet to show consistently that they're the kind of elite players needed to win lots of big SEC games.
With all of this in mind, I think we win this one, although I don't think it will be easy. A win will move us very close to lock status for the NCAAs. See Leftover Hot Dog for more preview action, and come by the Open Thread if you get the chance.