Damn You or Thank You, Vandy: Meet the Nation’s Worst ATS Team

vanderbilt basketball

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, January 18, 2018 4:07 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 4:07 PM UTC

If you have been betting against Vanderbilt’s basketball team all season, you are rolling in cash. If you have been betting on the Commodores, you have my condolences.

Go take a look at the against the spread records of all the Power 5 conference NCAA basketball teams – those from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – and it’s very easy to spot which school has been by far the worst bet of any this season: the SEC’s Vanderbilt Commodores are 1-14 ATS. 1-14!

The future is actually bright for Coach Bryce Drew’s team as he has signed two five-star McDonald’s All-Americans – Darius Garland and Simi Shittu -- in the Class of 2018, which is a first for Vandy. This season’s club is not very good, however, as it is the only team in the SEC with an overall losing record. Power 5 schools aren’t supposed to have losing records this early in conference play because they generally beat up on smaller schools out of conference.

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Earlier today, Darius Garland and Simi Shittu became Vanderbilt's first two selections to the @McDAAG game.
Story: https://t.co/XG8hZrQAWE pic.twitter.com/YKxr1IsEya

— Vandy MBB (@VandyMBB) January 16, 2018
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However, Vandy played a tough non-con schedule (USC, Virginia, Seton Hall, Arizona State) and also has losses to mid-majors Belmont and Middle Tennessee. True, Belmont is a contender in the Ohio Valley and Middle Tennessee is the C-USA favorite and has been in the NCAA tournament the past two seasons. But SEC schools shouldn’t be losing those games. Overall, the Dores’ schedule ranks as the nation’s sixth-toughest thus far by KenPom.com.

Vandy is 0-8 ATS at home and its lone cover was the SEC opener at Florida on Dec. 30, an 81-74 loss as a 9.5-point underdog. The Commodores have failed to cover as huge favorites (-25.5 vs. Austin Peay, -15 vs. Radford) or as short ones (-1 vs. Kansas State).

This was an NCAA Tournament team last season, finishing at 19-10 after losing a first-round thriller to Northwestern, 68-66, thanks to a bone-headed late foul by Matthew Fisher-Davis. He’s back and is the second-leading scorer and rebounder at 11.9 ppg and 5.1 rpg. Senior forward Jeff Roberson leads in both categories at 14.8 ppg and 7.4 rpg. He has six double-doubles on the year, the most in a season by a Commodore since Damian Jones had seven in 2015-16.

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Three starters are back overall (Riley LaChance is the third), which is what makes this season’s struggles all the more surprising. Plus, Saben Lee is a good-looking freshman. Luke Kornet was a big loss as he was named to the 2016-17 All-SEC First Team as a senior and was a two-time member of the All-SEC Defensive Team – he is the school’s all-time blocks leader.

Drew has used 10 different starting lineups thus far due to injuries and also looking for the right mix. Fisher-Davis sat out the Jan. 16 80-62 loss at Mississippi State with a shoulder injury. It was the Commodores’ largest losing margin in an SEC game since falling 72-52 to Missouri on Feb. 11, 2017.

Where Vandy is really getting killed is in the paint as sophomores Djery Baptiste, a 6-foot-10 center, and Clevon Brown, a 6-8 forward, are overwhelmed learning on the fly as both were backups to Kornet in 2016-17 and had combined for one career start entering this season. In addition, Vanderbilt shoots just 41.8 percent as a team (301st nationally), 32.2 percent from long range (also 301st) and is 349th in turnovers forced at just 10.1 per game (nearly six fewer than SEC leader Tennessee).

Will things get any better soon? The Dores actually have a winnable home game on Jan. 20 vs. LSU but then have four ranked foes up next at No. 21 Tennessee (already beat Vandy 92-84), vs. No. 24 TCU (Big 12/SEC Challenge), at No. 18 Kentucky (beat the Dores 74-67 on Jan. 13) and at No. 17 Auburn. So things might not get better soon.

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