Well, if you didn’t see last night’s Vandy win 72-69 over newly-minted #1 Tennessee coming, then you probably didn’t know that #1 teams simply don’t make it out of the strange and unusual venue known as Memorial Gymnasium alive. Vandy is now 6-3 all-time against #1 teams in the gym, and have won the last four, including an equally impressive 83-70 win last year over then #1 and defending national champion Florida.
Another #1 Goes Down at Vandy
But for some reason, last night’s win just seemed more impressive. Maybe it was because Vandy fans clutch a particular ire for their neighbors in puke orange. Maybe it was because we had just witnessed the Vols do likewise to #1 Memphis three nights earlier. Or maybe it was simply that we got wrapped up in the Memorial Magic like so many teams before, as the arena rocked and rolled for most of the night (no country for old men in Nashville last night). In any case, it was yet another impressive victory for Vandy at home, and one sure to propel them into the national top ten. Shan Foster made his case for SEC POY over rival Chris Lofton (25 pts on 7-18 shooting) by dropping 32 huge points on 9-13 shooting.
Why RTC When You Always Beat #1?
As for Tennessee, to come out of these two close road tests 1-1 is probably considered a victory for Bruce Pearl. The Vols have been more impressive than its teams of recent vintage in the sense that they are less perimeter-happy than they once were, thanks to Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism inside. Still, their toughness with the bullseye directly on their backs leaves questions for national prospects in March. As an underdog, Pearl’s teams excel – it’s only when great things are expected (see: Sweet 16 second half game against Ohio St. last year) do the Vols tend to become gunshy. This is worth keeping an eye on during the next few weeks, as Pearl will likely use this as motivation for the Vols to keep their underdog status.
Thing is, Florida used to be the same way, and we saw what happened with the Gators the last two seasons.
Final thought. Tennessee essentially held its first #1 ranking ever for about 28 hrs before losing it, which is one of the quickest reigns you’ll ever see. We remember a newly-minted #1 Florida getting run out of the gym at Kentucky in 2003 after a similar amount of time; and first-time #1 Wake Forest likewise getting destroyed at Illinois in 2004 after a day at the helm. Maybe there’s something to the idea of uneasy is the head that carries the crown, eh? ‘
Photo Credits: Sammy8146 at Flickr.com