Jordan Mickey, Jarell Martin, and company head to 16th Avenue Saturday where steel guitars cry and fiddles play with a dream. They are not like the boys who make the noise dreaming of playing on the sacred circle of the Grand Ole Opry; however, they are boys dreaming of playing on the road to the Final Four.
Current bracketology has LSU projected to be a number 8 seed. This is largely based on strong out-of-conference play with wins against Texas Tech and at West Virginia. Against Division 1 teams collectively, the Tigers have a record of 14-4 including 9-1 at home, 4-1 on the road, and 1-2 at a neutral site. In the same category, they have a strength of schedule ranking of 86 and an RPI of 46.
Based on the numbers above, LSU looks like its dream will come to fruition. The one thing standing in its way is consistent conference play. The Tigers are 3-2 in the SEC. They lost at Missouri in overtime, won a nail biter against Georgia in double overtime, won at Ole Miss for the time since 2009, lost a heartbreaker against Texas A&M after leading by 13, and are coming off a dominating performance at Florida breaking up the Gators home winning streak.
The Tigers look for consistency and another dominant performance as they face off against the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville who are coming off a 65-57 loss against Kentucky. In the game Tuesday night, the Dores were a 3-point basket away from tying the game on 2 separate occasions. They shot at a 42% clip from the field and at a 39% clip from behind the arc. Riley LaChance, who is the SEC leading scorer, had 16 points including nine from downtown and added three rebounds. Other players with double digit points at Rupp Arena were freshman Matthew Fisher-Davis (13) and Damian Jones (11).
The game is another in a long line of games in front of a national television audience on ESPNU at 5:00 and is another in a long line of games to impress the bracketologists.