Vanderbilt ended a brief run in the SEC Tournament when they failed to protect a 12 point lead against Tennessee. Now, they have to wait and see if those brutal final minutes were the last of their 2014-15 season.
The Commodores were never really in consideration for an NCAA Tournament invite, but their 8-2 finish to the regular season put them in contention to make a run at the National Invitational Tournament. Vandy hasn't played in the NIT since 2006. While an appearance in the second-tier tourney wouldn't be as glamorous as an NCAA bid, the extra games could end up being a boon for a young team that needs to build all the experience that they can.
However, there's no guarantee that the selection committee will want a Commodore team that had zero wins against RPI top 50 opponents. To get a better idea of Vanderbilt's NIT chances, I reached out to SBNation's resident expert Chris Dobbertean. Chris runs Blogging the Bracket, and while he's knee-deep in NCAA Tournament projections he's also got a solid handle on the NIT. Here's what he had to say about the Commodores' postseason prospects:
I think it's unlikely the Commodores end up securing an NIT place. A combination of an RPI ranking over 90 and the potential for a few regular season conference champions to still fall in their conference tournaments, which the number of available spots, is not a great combination.
- Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket.
That would leave Thursday's disappointing result as the last impression from Vandy's 2014-15 season, but not everyone shares Chris's views on the Commodores. I scoured the internet for NIT projections to figure out what other bracketologists think of Vanderbilt's chances. Here's what I found.
The NIT Bracket Project (Updated March 11th):
1 - Texas A&M, Illinois, Stanford, Miami (FL)
2 - UCLA, Old Dominion, Richmond, Tulsa
3 - Alabama, Minnesota, Connecticut, Pittsburgh
4 - Buffalo, Rhode Island, Arizona State, Murray State
5 - Vanderbilt, George Washington, Seton Hall, Illinois State
6 - Wisconsin-Green Bay, St. Mary's, Memphis, Iona
7 - Harvard, Clemson, UTEP, South Dakota State
8 - William & Mary, St. Francis (NY), Bucknell, Charleston Southern
DRatings.com (Updated March 13th):
3 Seeds Vanderbilt SEC 19-13 1.824 0.950 (72) Connecticut AAC 18-13 1.713 0.818 (79) St Mary’s CA WCC 21-9 1.683 0.459 (97) G Washington A10 21-11 1.641 0.488 (95)
Bleacher Report (Updated March 12th):
Seeds Teams 1 Texas A&M Miami (FL) Illinois Tulsa 2 Tulsa Murray State UCLA Stanford 3 Old Dominion Richmond Pittsburgh Green Bay 4 Rhode Island Alabama George Washington Connecticut 5 Oregon State Iona Yale Buffalo 6 Arizona State Minnesota UTEP Illinois State 7 Vanderbilt Saint Mary's Wyoming William & Mary 8 South Dakota St. Bucknell St. Francis Brooklyn Charleston Southern
NYCBuckets.com (Updated March 12th):
Others considered: Vanderbilt, Eastern Washington, Sam Houston St., High Point, Santa Barbara, Massachusetts, Kent State, Penn State, TCU, St. Bonaventure, Tennessee, Kansas State, Clemson, Seton Hall, Arizona St., California
TCU blog Frogs o' War (Updated March 11th):
So that's three projections with the Commodores in the NIT and three with them on the outside looking in. The bad news is that it's at least even odds that Vanderbilt won't have a chance to extend their season. The good news is that Vandy fans will still be able to wring some drama out of Selection Sunday after all. We'll have updates for you as soon as the NIT bracket is revealed on Sunday night.