Besides the NCAA tournament, college basketball is at its best when conference play first begins in early January. This is when the contenders and the pretenders begin to get separated.
On Thursday night, Vanderbilt (16-1, 1-1) visits Tennessee (14-1, 2-0) in the best match up so far in the SEC.
Vanderbilt received its first loss on Saturday, falling to Kentucky in double overtime in Lexington. Tennessee looked great on its road trip to South Carolina, whipping the Gamecocks 80-56.
Newcomer Tyler Smith continues to sparkle for the Vols while Vandy big man A. J. Ogilvy definitely gives the Commodores an inside presence. Tennessee's biggest weakness is rebounding, especially on the offensive boards. Ogilvy could give them match up problems.
Since the game is in Knoxville, I'm taking the Vols (then again, I would take them if they were playing in Nashville).
If you are only a casual basketball fan, make sure to watch this one. The two teams have a combined 30-2 record.
You don't see that every day.