Vanderbilt Commodores-Illinois Fighting Illini Preview

Eric AdamsContributor IDecember 7, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 10: Head coach Kevin Stallings of the Vanderbilt Commodores makes his point to the referee the LSU Tigers during day 2 of the SEC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament March 10, 2006 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tennessee. LSU won 92-73. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It's tough to tell how good this Illinois team is.

The Illini sport a 6-2 record with their only two losses coming in the Las Vegas Invitational.

It seems as if their fanbase shares a lot in common with Commodore fans.

Both really don't know what to expect from their teams.

The only win that stands out for Illinois was their dramatic comeback victory against then-19th-ranked Clemson.

The Tigers were leading by 23 at home and still caved in under the Illini attack.

That win in itself says a lot about Vandy's opponent.

After a victory like that, you know they are more than capable of running Vanderbilt out of their gym if given the chance.

There was an interesting poll by ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers.

He ranks all the teams in Illinois, and he had the Illini sixth.

That seems a bit harsh.

The poll was taken on Friday and he had DePaul ranked fourth before their loss to Vanderbilt.

I have a hard time believing that this team is worse than the Blue Demons.

"It was a tough week for the Illini," Powers said. "They were first upset by Utah and then lost to Bradley the following day. Their only saving grace for the week was their rally from a 23-point deficit to defeat Clemson. Illinois will need to prove itself if it's going to climb the rankings' ladder again."

Illini Talk has a nice breakdown of their comeback win against Clemson.

The Illini have five players that average double figures.

From a sheer statistical standpoint, it seems the team is led by Mike Davis (13.6 points/10.1 rebounds) and Demetri McCamey (12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 5.6 assists).

It seems like the wheels fell off for Illinois in the Clemson game, with McCamey getting into serious foul trouble.

The team switched to a zone to protect him, and things picked up.

That game was really two rolled into one.

Back to Davis: The 6'9" forward is averaging 30 minutes a game and has to be a huge presence inside.

This game feels like a win-win for the 'Dores.

Of course, a win here would be huge, but a road loss at Illinois wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I'm sure the crowd will be rocking, and it will be a good test.

As I wrote earlier today, the win at St. Mary's should have prepared this team to play in a tough environment.

Key Goals:

  • Get off to a fast start. You don't want to be playing catch-up on the road.
  • Guards need to push the ball. If we can get McCamey in foul trouble, we should have a leg up.
  • R-E-B-O-U-N-D: It's amazing how better this team looks when they crash the boards.
  • Urgency in half-court sets: It seems that a lot of times the team just passes the ball around the perimeter with no energy or decisiveness.
  • Somebody step up besides Ogilvy and Taylor: We need Beal or Tinsley to hit some big shots. We can't rely on the big two all year.

This should be a close one and fun to watch.

A special thanks to DirecTV for the Big Ten Network. The game will shown there and on the radio at 104.5 the Zone.


Visit my Vanderbilt blog: 'Dore Posts