Scouting NIT Tournament Quarterfinals: Vanderbilt at Xavier
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier interim head coach Jonas Hayes had no update on PG Paul Scruggs' knee injury during his press availability Monday afternoon. Paul was meeting with the medical staff. His playing status is a question mark. XU hosts Vanderbilt Tuesday night at Cintas (9 PM-ESPN) in NIT Quarterfinals. The SEC Commodores took out overall NIT #1 seed Dayton 70-68 in OT Sunday in Nashville. Vandy (19-16 overall, 7-11 SEC) beat crosstown rival Belmont 82-71 in NIT Round 1. VU has won 5 of 6 including SEC Tourney W's over Georgia and Alabama. They lost to Kentucky in the SEC Quarters. Jerry Stackhouse (North Carolina All American and NBA star) is in his 3rd season as Vanderbilt coach.
Jonas Hayes has high praise: "Vandy is maybe the best coached team in the SEC. Stackhouse runs about 2 million sets. Scotty Pippen Jr is elite across the board. They are a huge challenge. We'll be ready and get into their meat and potatoes."
Pippen isn't as tall as his NBA HOF father( Jr. is 6-3, 185),but he's led SEC twice in scoring and made 1st Team SEC twice. #2 draws a ton of fouls-drives fearlessly-triggers "3s"-is a tenacious on-the-ball defender and just makes BIG shots. Pippen dropped 32 against Dayton and scored 30+ three times vs UK.
He's not alone. 6-6 215 SF Jordan Wright (#4) has averaged 17PPG over the last 5. 6-7 PF Myles Stute (#10) has made 75 "3s" at 43%. 2G Rodney Chatman(Dayton transfer) is at 9 PPG recently. Vandy job shares at Center (7-footer Liam Robbins-Minnesota transfer and 6-10 hyper-active Quentin Millaora-Brown).
Vandy shoots a lot of threes (46% of their FGAs-#24 NCAA). They also defend the "3" well and have turned opponents over 15+ times in 15 games. VU scores 71 PPG and gives up 68. They are minus 1 on the glass. They own SEC wins over Arkansas, LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M.
KenPom picks Xavier 75-71. Muskies have won 3 of 4 and sit 11-0 in non-conference games at Cintas.
Vandy will be a sterner test than Florida (more disciplined-more committed and connected defensively and with a true star player in Scotty Pippen Jr).
The winner plays in NIT Semis March 29th at MSG. The opponent will be either St. Bonaventure (A-10-former XU assistant Mark Schmidt coaching) or Virginia (ACC-2019 NCAA Champs-coached by Tony Bennett St Bonnies - UVA is Tuesday (7PM-ESPN) in Charlottesville. XU won NIT in 1958. Muskies made it to Final 4 in NYC in 1999.