Unless you haven't been paying attention, you are aware that Vanderbilt is a consensus lock for the NCAA Tournament this season. This will mark the fifth appearance in the tourney of the Stallings era by the Commodores, and second time his team has made "back-to-back" appearances.
I think it's important to recognize the improvement Coach Stallings has made in the program since he was hired back in 1999. Coming out of the Van Breda Kolff years, Vanderbilt was looking to hire a coach that could take the program to the NCAA Tournament with regularity. Stallings has easily accomplished this task. Prior to Stallings, the school had only been to the NCAA Tournament a total of seven times. He's closing in on that number all on his own.
Where does the team stand heading into Selection Sunday?
Checking in with the phenomenal Bracket Matrix, Vanderbilt is currently sitting directly in the middle of five teams that are averaging out as six seeds. If the selection committee were to make their choices this morning, prior to any SEC Tournament play, Vanderbilt would most likely land as a six, a seed to which I don't think many Commodore fans would object, based on recent history:
2004 - 6th seeded VU defeats 11-seed Western Michigan 71-58 before taking out 3-seed North Carolina State 75-73. Maybe you remember Gus Johnson's coming out party?
2007 - 6th seeded VU defeats 11-seed George Washington 77-44 before edging 3-seed Washington State 78-74 in double overtime (Wikipedia just earned about 1,000 points in my book for mentioning that Jeff Green traveled - scroll to Regional Semifinals)
Vanderbilt has also made the tournament twice as a seed which shall not be named. Moving right along.
Seeding Scenarios As I See Them
Before I get into the various scenarios, keep in mind that what happens with other teams that are in and around Vanderbilt's position in the landscape will have almost as much impact on Vanderbilt's seed as the Commodores' performance over the next few games.
Lose to LSU - Not very likely, though also not unimaginable. If this happens, Vandy probably drops down to a low seven or high eight, depending on how other teams around them perform. Thankfully, the "last 12 games" mark isn't officially considered by the selection committee any more. - Low 7, High 8
Beat LSU, Lose to Mississippi State - This is probably what I would consider the second most likely option. If this comes to pass, Vandy is probably still a low six, high seven, again depending on how other teams around them perform over the next few days. - Low 6, High 7
Beat LSU, Beat Misssissippi State, Lose to Florida/Tennessee (again) - This is probably the most likely scenario, though the impact depends on which team Vandy faces in the SECT semis. If Florida, I think Vandy holds at a low five, high six (subject to other teams). If Tennessee, I think Vandy will probably be a six. - Low 5, High 6; 6
Beat LSU, Beat Mississippi State, Beat Florida/Tennessee (finally), Lose to Kentucky/Alabama/Georgia - Obviously beating Florida, losing to Kentucky is the most desirable of the potential options in this grouping. If Vandy beats Florida and loses to Kentucky, I think Vandy is looking more at a low four, high five. If it shifts to beating Tennessee and losing to Georgia or Alabama, I think Vandy would probably end up a 5 seed. - Low 4, High 5; 5
Win the SEC Tournament - Much of this obviously depends on which teams Vanderbilt beats for the crown. If Vandy plays Florida and Kentucky, I think Vandy has an outside shot at a 3 seed. If not, I think the ceiling is probably a four seed. And if that happens, I'm stoked. Third time's a charm. - Low 3; 4