Having won 8 of their last 9, Vanderbilt basketball is currently one of the hottest teams in the country. After their most recent win against Mississippi State, Joe Lunardi had Vandy as the seventh team out in his bracketology. Since then, Charleston took over, and Vandy was removed from the "Next Four Out" column. Right now, Vandy is sitting as the 9th team out and is a bit of a longshot to make the tournament. That being said, it is still worthwhile watching other bubble teams to see if Vandy can sneak their way in.
Below is some information on some of the bubble teams listed by Joe Lunardi in his latest update. NET Rankings are through games played on March 5th.
*Note-SOS Rankings are a bit of a mystery. Many different sites have different rankings. These are based off of CBS's bracketology article, but other websites I've found have been different, so I'd take the SOS rankings listed with a grain of salt.
The first observation to be made here is which of these teams have similar records to Vandy. Oregon, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, and Rutgers all have records equal to or less than Vanderbilt's overall record. Penn State and UNC have records just one game greater than ours. These are the teams that Vandy could be looking to overtake. Charleston is a bit of an anomaly. Their strength of schedule is obviously very low, considering they are from the CAA, however, their overall record is outstanding. Given the fact that they are outside of the field at this point, though, I'd say that anything less than winning their conference keeps them out. However, since the 1 seed in the CAA (Hofstra) lost in the CAA tournament, it might not really matter, since somebody has to get the automatic bid.
Another important observation here is the range of NET rankings of all of these teams, from 21 (Utah State) to 78 (Wisconsin). This tells us that the human element is doing its job and genuinely choosing the best teams rather than just relying on the NET rankings to determine the field. This is a good thing for Vandy, since for some reason, the metrics hate us, and we're at 83 in the NET. I still don't understand why Mississippi State is 40 spots ahead of us, but that's another article for another day. The human element should watch Vandy and see that we're playing like one of the best teams in the SEC right now, and take note of that despite our metrics.
Here is a sort of "viewing guide" for games that affect the bubble on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I might update this again to display games on Saturday and Sunday, too, but for now, the teams that will be playing in those games are too uncertain. Teams listed as Lunardi's bubble teams are italicized. All times are in Central Standard Time.
Pitt vs. GA Tech 1:30 on ESPN
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin 5:30 on BTN
North Carolina vs. Boston College 6:00 on ESPN2
NC State vs. VA Tech/Notre Dame 8:30 on ESPN2
Arizona St vs. Oregon St 10:30 on PAC-12 Networks
Rutgers vs. Michigan 11:00 on BTN
Ohio St/Wisconsin vs. Iowa around 1:30 on BTN
Mississippi State vs. Florida 12:00 on SECN
Duke vs. Pitt/GA Tech 1:30 on ESPN/2
Nevada vs. San Jose State 4:30 on CBS Sports
Oregon vs. Washington St/Cal 4:30 on PAC-12 Networks
Penn St vs. Illinois 5:30 on BTN
Virginia vs. North Carolina/Boston College 6:00 on ESPN/2
Texas vs. Oklahoma State/Oklahoma 6:00 on ESPN2
Boise State vs. UNLV/Air Force 8:00 on CBS Sports
Clemson vs. NC St/VA Tech/Notre Dame 8:30 on ESPN2
Utah State vs. New Mexico/Wyoming 10:30 on CBS Sports
Purdue vs. Rutgers/Michigan 11:00 on BTN
Alabama vs. Mississippi St/Florida on ESPN
So, what does Vandy need to do to get into the tournament? Well, a win against Georgia or LSU is necessary, but it doesn't help us much resume-wise. If we win that game, we'll have to face Kentucky. If we win that, we'll have 20 wins and might be able to sneak in. If we win three games in the tournament, then I think odds are pretty good we get in.
Regardless of whether we get in or not, I still consider this season a success and am looking forward to next year. I'll save my comments on why we should be optimistic for next year for when the season is officially over, but for now, watch the tournament, trust in Pinman, and hope for the best.
CBS Conference Tournament Tracking: https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/article/2023-03-06/2023-ncaa-conference-tournaments-schedules-brackets-scores-auto-bids
Big 12 Bracket: https://big12sports.com/tournaments/?id=1041
Big Ten Bracket: https://bigten.org/sports/2022/10/20/2023MBBT.aspx