Saturday, March 13, 2010

What to Watch For When You're Not Watching Vanderbilt

The Commodores are clearly in the NCAA Tournament Field, even if they don't beat Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament semis. At this point, we're playing for seeding, which means what we do on the court and what others do around the country are of equal importance.

Joe Lunardi's current bracket has Vanderbilt as a #5 seed matching up with Utah State and playing in the same region as Syracuse.'s Andy Glockner also has the Commodores as a #5 matching up against San Diego State and also playing in Syracuse's draw.

Andy and Joe have pretty much the same teams ahead of Vanderbilt. It's simply a question of what seed lines the teams ahead of them are. The only difference is Temple, who Andy has as a #3, while Joe has them as a #5.

The question is, how far can they move up? Who do the Commodores need to lose to get a protected seed?

Lunardi's other 4 seeds: Tennessee, Wisconsin, Michigan State, New Mexico

Only 1 of these four 4 seeds, Tennessee, is still alive. The Volunteers will play a rubber-match against Kentucky tipping off about this time this article is posted. Wisconsin, Michigan State, and New Mexico all lost yesterday. According to, Vanderbilt's RPI is 22, while New Mexico is 8, Wisconsin is 15, Tennessee is 16, and Michigan State is 24. Vanderbilt beat Tennessee twice this season, so the notion that they could be seeded ahead of us continues to boggle my mind. If Vanderbilt wins and Kentucky wins, there is little doubt that Vanderbilt is deserving of at least a seed as high at UT. If UT beats UK then it would seem to be all the more impressive that Vanderbilt beat them twice (with a chance to do it thrice in the SEC Final). Wisconsin and Michigan State already lost, and Vanderbilt has a better RPI than the Trojans. With a win today, they should certainly jump up to the 4 line.

Can They Move Up to a 3?

Lunardi's 3 seeds: Georgetown, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Baylor; Glocker's Got Temple on the 3 Line

Georgetown isn't going anywhere but up. If they beat West Virginia, they could move up to the #2 line (especially if Purdue losses to the pesky Gophers of Minnesota). If they lose, they are still a great team with an RPI of 9 who made it to the championship game of the best conference in basketball. Villanova, Pitt, and Baylor are all done playing. Baylor's RPI 7, 'Nova is 10, and Pitt is 17. Despite struggling down the stretch, I have a difficult time believing Jay Wright's Wildcats will be moved off this line. Similarly, Baylor's RPI of 7 would make it difficult to move them down to a 4. The 3 seed Vanderbilt would be likely to displace would seem to be Pittsburgh. But in order to do that, they have to beat Mississippi State, and either have to beat Tennessee for the SEC Championship or lose to Kentucky close.

Is a 2 Seed Possible?

Lundari's 2 seeds: West Virginia, Purdue, Ohio State, Kansas State

Probably not. It's possible, but I think our ceiling is a 3 seed. 3 of these 4 #2 seeds can potentially move up to a #1 seed with a win today. 1 team, Purdue, is hanging on for dear life for their 2 seed. All 4 of these teams play today, and I think if West Virginia wins the Big East, Ohio State wins the Big Ten or KSU beats Kansas for the Big 12, they can make a compelling case to be a #1 seed. If Duke loses, then whichever team of these teams wins their conference tournament will be a #1.

As for Purdue, if they beat Minnesota, they'll probably be a #2 unless Georgetown beats West Virginia, in which case the Hoyas are definitely a #2.

Bottom Line: Who I'll Be Rooting Against

1. Mississippi State: Most of this conversation is moot if Vanderbilt doesn't beat the Bulldogs
2. Tennessee: Vanderbilt's stock rises the better their SEC Final opponent is. Add to that, the fact that it is difficult to beat a team (especially a rival) 3 times in one season. I think Vanderbilt wants to Cats tomorrow. Also, it'd be going against muscle-memory to root for the Volunteers.
3. Purdue: In my opinion, the Selection Committee with be looking for a reason to drop the Boilermakers. Add that to the fact that Minnesota can play their way in with a W and I'm rooting for the Gophers.
4. Temple: If Glockner is right, then Vanderbilt needs to jump the Owls as well. Right now, Rhode Island's place in the field of 65 is precarious at best. They've got a lot to play for. Much like Minnesota, Commodore fans should root for the underdog both because it's good for us, and it feels good.
5. Georgetown: This is a tough one given my residual bitterness over Jeff Green's blatant travel in the Sweet Sixteen 3 years ago. Still, desperate times call for desperate measures, and I think Georgetown moves up to the 2 line freeing up on spot on the 3 line for the Commodores. I think a 3 seed is probably our ceiling (even if we win the SEC Tournament), and as such we'll need room on the line.


Anonymous said...

I don't see why beatig a team twice entitles you to a higher seed than that team. It is body of work, and if the body of work is better than the other team, the head to head matchup is less relevant. For instance, Utah beat UNLV both games this year. UNLV is a lock for the tourney and Utah is out.

Steven said...

But if both teams have the same W-L record, head to head can become a very important metric.