Vandy Hopes to Stun Kentucky

Tony Salinas: Vandy Hopes to Stun Kentucky

Before the season started, Kentucky at Vandy was supposed to be one of the biggest college basketball games of the year. Kentucky was #2 in the Preseason rankings. Defying what we knew about the SEC in general, and Vandy's program in particular...the Commodores ranked #7 before any games were played.

Surely ESPN's GameDay made the right choice in pinning down Kentucky at Vandy for a pre-Valentine's tussle. An "Elite Eight" caliber home dog would be hoping to stun a "Final Four" caliber road favorite.

Well, Kentucky has held up its end of the deal...as John Calipari-coached teams usually do. Kentucky is currently ranked #1 heading into tonight's prime time showdown. Vandy is on the list of teams who were overrated by pundits entering the season:

PRESEASON AP RANK
#4 Connecticut...currently unranked, and not even getting any votes
#7 Vandy...currently unranked, but in the top 40 if you count "also getting votes."
#9 Louisville...currently #24
#10 Pittsburgh... currently unranked, and not even getting any votes
#11 Memphis...currently unranked, and not even getting any votes
#14 Xavier...currently unranked, and not even getting any votes
#17 UCLA...currently unranked, and not even getting any votes
#19 Alabama... currently unranked, and not even getting any votes
#20 Texas A&M... currently unranked, and not even getting any votes

Hey, great job with your Preseason poll pundits! If these guys had to make their living in Las Vegas, they wouldn't last a month. But, pollsters are called "experts" while guys who beat the markets in Vegas are second-class citizens when it comes to the mainstream media. Unbelievable! 

ESPN thought Louisville-Pittsburgh was going to be an important game because of those Preseason rankings. They may have erred again here because Vandy isn't remotely a top 10 caliber team.

That being said, you see highly regarded teams lose to lesser lights all the time. Duke just lost to Miami of Florida last Sunday. Here are the elements that need to be in play for a Vandy upset this evening.

  • Vandy has to get fired up to play one of their best games of the whole season. I do expect that to happen...at least the being fired up part. It's rare for a school like Vandy to get a prime national TV spot like this. The kids know they'll make national headlines if they can upset the Wildcats.

  • Vandy has to play free and easy rather than tight and nervous. That's the biggest threat for an upset...that Vandy feels pressure from the TV exposure rather than excitement. You just can't make mistakes against a Calipari coached team. Will Vandy keep its composure?

  • Kentucky has to get riled by the crowd. Most upsets involve a combination of underdogs playing over their heads and favorites having a bad game. Vandy doesn't win this unless Kentucky plays a bad game. The crowd really needs to step up and be a factor. I do expect this to happen out of the gate. Can Kentucky silence them early and stay in control the whole night?

  • The refs need to play to the crowd. This is one of the great hidden factors in homecourt upsets. I can't tell you how many times a nice free throw advantage has helped me clinch an underdog cover. There's always a good chance for this happening. It's rare when the road team gets all the officiating breaks in a big game like this.

In terms of intangibles...I do think Vandy has some pretty good upset potential here. I am concerned about nerves. And, I don't think Vandy's defense is a sure thing to be trusted. It's a weakness when you focus only on the top 50 or 60 teams in the sport.

Will Vanderbilt be part of my personal service for Saturday? Hey, it's a MONSTER schedule, and there are several spots where live dogs make a lot of sense. There are also a few blowout spots I'm looking at too. You'll have to purchase my plays online or in the office if you want to know who made the final cut. Remember, I'm an action-heavy bettor personally here in Vegas, but my clients only get the games I'm betting the BIGGEST myself. Vandy may be on the long list of value bets, but not the short list of BIG BETS.

Call the office at 1-888-536-8880 if you'd like more information about my basketball service. We're already rumbling down THE ROAD TO MARCH MADNESS. Many of you are just now betting basketball for the first time this season because you were focused so much on football. Don't take the worst of it by playing your own uneducated leans. Make sure you're GETTING THE BEST OF IT with TONY SALINAS!

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