We are headed into the final week of the regular season and Vanderbilt actually has something to play for!
Earlier this year, the Commodores looked like a team destined for either a losing season or a year that saw them remaining home and out of the postseason picture. However, this team has come together and played themselves in contention for an at large spot in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Things are not yet settled though. Playing on the bubble is always a tricky situation and that is where Vanderbilt see's themselves going into this week's games. Opportunity is what you want at this stage of the season and that's exactly what Vanderbilt has sitting in front of them.
Starting on Tuesday, Vanderbilt travels to Lexington to face SEC leader Kentucky. The Wildcats defeated Vandy earlier this season in Nashville, 88-82.
The Commodores will wrap up the regular season at home this Saturday when they welcome in the Florida Gators. Head coach Mike White will have his team ready to play, considering the Dores beat Florida down in Gainesville earlier this year, 68-66.
It will not be easy for the Dores this week but it's better to have these games as opportunities rather than playing teams that will get you nowhere. Everything is in Vanderbilt's hands. If they want the NCAA Tournament, they can have it. It won't be easy but the path of getting there is clear, so Vanderbilt knows they control their destinations and it's up to them whether they make it or not.
The SEC Tournament comes first and that begins next week, here in Nashville. Even if Vanderbilt drops both games this week or even splits, the SEC Tournament offers a chance at redemption.
Vanderbilt is currently tied for 5th place in the SEC and could finish anywhere from 5th to 10th place. That's how close and jumbled up the middle of the Southeastern Conference is. The margin is small this week but you wouldn't want it any other way.
Having these games this week against Kentucky and Florida while also having the SEC Tournament around the corner, it will keep the Vanderbilt players invested and focused. If they show up flat in either game, they will be blown out, so having something to play for this deep in the year is a very positive thing for not only this particular team but for the program as a whole.
It could be the longest two weeks for the Vandy faithful but oh well. Your team has persevered, remained focused and now have themselves contending for an NCAA Tourney spot. Even if they don't make it, this team has shown what they are capable of and the more time spent with Coach Drew, the better the program will be.