Friday started off badly for Vanderbilt, but by the end of the day, the Commodores were about where they started the day -- that is, if their position hadn't actually improved.
St. Joseph's 86, George Washington 80: This helps. St. Joseph's was probably going to the tournament anyway, and this relegates GW (a fringe bubble team at best) to the NIT.
Davidson 90, St. Bonaventure 86: Of the four A-10 teams appearing in most brackets, St. Bonaventure has the weakest profile -- their argument is a good RPI, a sweep of St. Joe's and a win at Dayton -- but that's balanced out by a couple of losses to A-10 bottom-feeders Duquesne and La Salle and a fairly weak non-conference SOS. KenPom hates them, too, and after this loss I'm squinting to see how they'd make the tournament and Vanderbilt wouldn't. Someone without gold-tinted glasses help me out here. Anyway, Davidson doesn't have an at-large case to speak of so let's hope they're done winning.
UConn 104, Cincinnati 97: Obviously somebody had to win here, but I'm not sure this hurts Vanderbilt as much as I thought yesterday -- on closer inspection, UConn and Cincy have pretty similar resumes, such that they're probably both in anyway as it is. But we do want to root for UConn now as they have the strongest case of anybody left in the American tournament.
Tulane 72, Houston 69: Houston didn't really have an at-large case, but now they won't claim the American's auto bid, either. But this game was mostly noteworthy for the high comedy of the interwebs exploding with rumors that Tulane's coach was so fired at halftime of the game, and then Tulane winning the game. Tulane: the school that can't even get firing a coach right.
Memphis 89, Tulsa 67: This was Tulsa's second loss to Memphis on the season, showing that Frank Haith is doing his part to keep Josh Pastner employed. Also, Tulsa is probably out with this loss, particularly since it wasn't even close. The danger now is that Memphis plays Tulane on Saturday and we really have to be concerned that they might steal a bid, because they have as much talent as LSU (but luckily, also as much coaching.)
Michigan 72, Indiana 69: Not good. But most bracketologists still seem to think Michigan is out -- but their hopes are still alive, and a win over Purdue on Saturday might push them ahead of Vanderbilt. Fortunately, the Big Ten contenders not coached by Tom Crean did their part to snuff out any potential bid thievery on Friday.
San Diego State 67, Nevada 55: In theory, SDSU has a case for an at-large bid, even if it's not much of one. Them advancing to the Mountain West finals boosts that case a bit, but considering nobody else in the Mountain West even has a case to speak of, we'd really prefer they win this. So this helps.
Texas A&M 72, Florida 66; Kentucky 85, Alabama 59: Whatever case that Florida or Alabama had for an at-large bid is now done.
Georgia 65, South Carolina 64: (Insert joke about Cocks and gagging here.)
This one's actually fairly neutral. It hurts in that Georgia gets a chance to make its case against Kentucky on Saturday. On the other hand... has anybody putting together a bracket on the internet actually looked at South Carolina's resume? It basically consists of a win at Texas A&M and, otherwise, a pretty record that's devoid of any substance. No, really, if South Carolina gets in and Vanderbilt doesn't, the Selection Committee is essentially admitting that that whole spiel about challenging yourself in non-conference play is complete horseshit and what they really value is racking up a nice record. (This applies equally to St. Mary's, by the way.)
At the end of the day, though, it's hard to say that Friday actually hurt Vanderbilt. That may change on Saturday and Sunday if Memphis wins out (I'd say "or Tulane" except that would just be hilarious even if it did cost Vanderbilt a bid), or if Michigan or Georgia picks up another win. But Vanderbilt is probably in the same position now that they were after they lost to Tennessee. Which isn't exactly a good position, but at least it's not getting worse... right?
Kevin Stallings' Job Status Watch
Nothing really of note on this front. Vanderbilt is mostly mum about the subject, which can't really be interpreted as good news for Stallings -- if they had already made up their minds about it, they'd have said so. Now you can maybe believe that this decision hinges on whether Vanderbilt's name is called on Selection Sunday, but if your decision is based on whether Vanderbilt is playing a First Four game in Dayton or an NIT game at Memorial Gym, we may need to start asking questions of the people making the decisions here.
If there's an argument to be made in favor of Stallings here (and it's a weak one), it's that Vanderbilt is set up to have a pretty good team next year and keeping him around probably won't set the program up for an obvious lame-duck season that leaves the next coach a tire fire to clean up after. We can only assume that there's currently some behind-the-scenes stuff going on between now and Sunday.