After three rebuilding years, Vanderbilt is back in the NCAA Tournament.
The Commodores had to sweat out Selection Sunday after losing to 15-19 Tennessee in the second round of the SEC Tournament, but that bad defeat wasn't enough to drop them out of the big dance. Vanderbilt drew an 11 seed and will play fellow 11 seed Wichita State in a First Four matchup in Dayton, OH on Tuesday night. The winner will advance to a Thursday showdown against sixth-seeded Arizona.
Vanderbilt will enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the bracket's most dangerous underdogs -- and also one of its most inconsistent teams. The Commodores have three potential NBA Draft picks in their starting lineup in center Damian Jones, point guard Wade Baldwin IV, and power forward Luke Kornet. Despite that glut of talent, Vandy finished just 19-13 this season and suffered losses to underwhelming teams like Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Tennessee. Wins over No. 16 Kentucky and No. 17 Texas A&M were enough to offset those embarrassing defeats, but ultimately sunk the team's chance for a high seed.
Now, the Commodores' road to redemption will begin in Dayton. Vandy is three wins from a return date with the Sweet Sixteen and a chance to meet the preseason expectations that came with one of the most talented rosters in program history.