The Bracketology Report: Vanderbilt

Updated: February 18, 2004, 1:56 PM ET
By Charlie Creme | Insider Bracketologist

Editor's note: Each week Bracketology Insider will take an in-depth look at teams headed for the NCAA Tournament ... or not.

Week in review
An opportunity slipped through Vandy's (InsideRPI No. 31, SOS No. 39) hands on Saturday when it dropped an 85-72 decision at South Carolina to fall two-and-a-half games behind the Gamecocks and three behind Kentucky in the SEC East. The Commodores were fighting back from big margins all night against South Carolina and never quite climbed out of an early hole.

A win and Vandy would have been knocking on the second-place door. Instead, the Commodores are fighting to stay out of the division's basement. This also marked another road failure as they're still looking for a road SEC win.

Coming up
Losers of four of their last six, the Commodores desperately need a winning streak. Tonight's game at Alabama (InsideRPI No. 24, SOS No. 1) is approaching "must win" status. Another loss and the chances of Vanderbilt finishing above or even at .500 in SEC play become very small. This is also another opportunity to grab a much-needed road victory. As important and impressive as Vandy's win over Kentucky was, it was last month and the Commodores have yet to give it a partner.

Alabama is another 4-6 SEC team, making the game crucial for both teams. Both Vanderbilt and the Crimson Tide seem headed for the group of teams that make up the NCAA field's final few spots. In that case, this head-to-head result could go a long way.

All of the above also applies to Saturday's visit to Nashville by LSU (InsideRPI No. 15, SOS No. 34), except the Tigers have fared much better in SEC play and enter the week with five straight wins. With these and other circumstances in play, this clearly becomes Vanderbilt's biggest week to date.

"Bubble Trouble"
The Commodores are No. 39 this week on The Bracketology Report national seeding chart. Vanderbilt is projected as a No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region.

Vanderbilt's weak non-conference schedule is going to hurt come decision time, especially if the Commodores can't finish at least .500 in the SEC. Remaining road games against Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia are vital, especially since Vandy has yet to register a conference win away from home.

Put that 0-fer next to a losing SEC record, as well as five wins against sub-200 RPI opponents, and the Selection Committee now has too many reasons to leave Vanderbilt out.

Games of the Week
Vanderbilt fans should root FOR and AGAINST the teams in ALL CAPS.
For Ohio State @ INDIANA (Sat.)
Wisconsin @ MICHIGAN (Sun.)
Against Texas @ OKLAHOMA (Wed.)
Air Force @ UTAH (Sat.)

Inside the Numbers
Additional considerations for the NCAA Selection Committee include:
"Good" wins
(vs. RPI 1-25) Florida, Kentucky
(vs. RPI 26-50) Michigan
(vs. RPI 51-100) @Belmont, Indiana, Michigan, Auburn, Georgia
"Bad" losses
(vs. RPI 101-150) NONE
(vs. RPI sub-150) NONE
Record vs. projected field (2-4)
Win: Florida, Kentucky
Loss: @Florida, South Carolina, @Kentucky, @South Carolina
Record vs. at-large pool (2-0)
Win: Georgia, Indiana
Loss: NONE
Reason(s) to INCLUDE Vanderbilt
  • RPI No. 31 RPI
  • 2-2 vs. RPI Top 25
  • Reason(s) to EXCLUDE Vanderbilt
  • 4-6 conference record
  • NonConf SOS No. 185
  • Season breakdown (15-6, 4-6)
    All RPI data through Monday, Feb. 17

    Date      Opponent           Result      Opp. RPI      Opp. SOS
    11/21     @Belmont           74-59         88            177
    11/24     Indiana            73-60         66            37
    11/29     Tennessee-Martin   94-60         243           131

    12/3 IUPUI 86-68 115 170 12/6 Michigan 83-63 64 67 12/10 Tennessee State 85-64 287 228 12/13 Tennessee Tech 98-79 192 226 12/20 Wofford 90-59 253 134 12/22 Appalachian State 63-48 219 101 12/30 Lehigh 85-59 221 322

    1/3 @TCU 95-60 131 68 1/7 Auburn 59-53 63 40 1/10 @Kentucky 63-75 (L) 3 5 1/14 @Tennessee 66-76 (L) 61 49 1/17 Florida 86-72 12 2 1/24 @Arkansas 62-70 (L) 86 41 1/28 South Carolina 55-57 (L) 38 116 1/31 Kentucky 66-60 3 5

    2/7 @Florida 71-81 (L) 12 2 2/11 Georgia 61-39 52 21 2/14 @South Carolina 75-82 (L) 38 116 2/18 @Alabama 24 1 2/21 LSU 15 34 2/25 @Mississippi 59 32 2/28 Mississippi State 4 60

    3/3 Tennessee 61 49 3/6 @Georgia 52 21 3/11 SEC TOURNAMENT

    Joe Lunardi's forecast (Feb. 17)
    Chance of NCAA top seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA "protected" (1-4) seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA bid: 50 percent
    Chance of NCAA at-large bid: 45 percent
    Chance of NIT bid: 45 percent
    Chance of missing post-season: 5 percent

    Charlie Creme projects the women's NCAA tournament bracket for