The number one in the whole freakin’ country Florida Gators are heading to Memorial Gym today. The game is appropriately set for high noon*. According to the ‘for amusement only’ betting lines published in today’s Tennessean, the Gators are giving 6 and 1/2 points to the Commodores. Considering that home floor advantage is worth 3 points, the Gators are actually considered to be 10 points better than Vandy.
On paper, I would agree, and as a realistic Vandy fan (hey, Vandy football has been one long life lesson), I realize that I could easily walk out of Memorial Gym this afternoon with a sad countenance and a non-repressed memory of Vandy getting Gator-whomped.
On the other hand, I’ve been present when two separate numero uno teams roared into Memorial like the lions of March, and left as meek as lambs. The ruffian Bobby Knight swaggered in, awash in red, with an Indiana team considered to be one of his best. Vandy took em’ down with a Hoosier-daddy, NOW?
The classy Dean Smith brought the Tarheels to town with a number one ranking, and they were left on their heels.
Both times, Vanderbilt was clearly an inferior team. Maybe because they still play in an honest-to-god gymnasium instead of a soul-less arena. Maybe it’s the benches on the end of the court that drives many visiting coaches into bonker-ville. I’m not sure, but you can’t really factor magic into making book.
Ask any Vandy fan who watched more than one game when Barry Goheen redefined the meaning of clutch…there’s magic in that gym.
I’m hoping that the magic can stretch into a win today. Realism and magic don’t often intertwine, but a guy can dream, right?
*I do have a quibble with the schedulers bowing to the demands of CBS by starting the game at noon. The noon start is interfering with my Mothership Saturday traditional lunch…booooooo