Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Cleveland St. Vikings
The Cleveland State Vikings and Vanderbilt Commodores tangle in the opening game of the Legend’s Classic. This will be the Vikings season opener while the Commodores opened their year with a 78-64 victory over Oregon. The Commodores are -15.5 point favorites over the Vikings.
The Vikings finished last season in a three way tie for the top spot in the Horizon League with Butler and Milwaukee at 13-5. The goal this year will be owning first place all by their lonesome but that might be a bit optimistic without Horizon League Player of the Year Norris Cole who was selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Cole averaged over 21 points and five assists as the Vikings landed a spot in the NIT with a 27-9 record. The cupboard isn’t completely bare with Trevon Harmon and Jeremy Montgomery back after averaging a combined 24.8 points and 6.6 rebounds. More is expected in 2011-’12 and necessary as the team’s only proven scorers. Center Aaron Pogue has the potential to give Cleveland State a third option at the offensive end after averaging 8.2 points and six pulls but what this team gets from their lineup outside of these three is wait and see.
A year after finishing with a 9-7 conference record and three way tie for fourth in the SEC, the sky is the limit for Vanderbilt who returns all five starters but will be missing a key part of both their offense and defense for a substantial amount of time. Center Festus Ezeli will likely be out for the next eight weeks with sprained ligaments in his right knee which means the Commodores will have to get by without his 13.3 points and six rebounds for the near future. It turned out not to be a factor against Oregon in their opener with Jeffrey Taylor scoring 21 points while hauling down eleven rebounds and grabbing five steals. John Jenkins tossed in a game high 24 points which was reassuring to see from the reigning scoring champ in the SEC. The bad news is the rest of the team was somewhat silent after Taylor and Jenkins which isn’t a recipe’ for success going forward.
Both team’s are a bit shorthanded right now with Vanderbilt missing their center and Cleveland State losing their star to graduation. This hurts the Vikings more because the Commodores have plenty of talent and experience back in the fold. I honestly don’t know what to expect from the Vikings opening up the schedule with a very good team but I’ll try the points for the time being.
Cleveland St. Vikings +15.5 Vanderbilt Commodores