And suddenly, Vanderbilt is the most interesting bubble team in college basketball.
In a must-win game at home against No. 12 Florida, the Commodores erased a late 12-point deficit with a 14-0 run, surviving four missed free throws in the final minute to knock off the Gators, 73-71, and complete the season sweep.
With the win, Vanderbilt is now 17-14 on the season and 10-8 in the SEC, which doesn’t sound like a résumé that is good enough to be in the NCAA tournament until you look at it a bit deeper. Vandy now have five top 30 wins on the season — two of which came on the road — including two top five wins, both over Florida. They have a total of 10 top 100 wins and just one of their losses is what you can call a bad loss; they lost by 20 points at Missouri.
What the committee does with Vandy is going to be fascinating. On the one hand, the Commodores are good. They had Kentucky beaten on the road before giving that game back. They swept Florida, who is a top ten team in every metric. They beat South Carolina. They beat Iowa State. They won at Arkansas. Their record ins’t flattering, but they played the second-toughest schedule in the country, including the No. 2 ranked non-conference schedule. That’s a factor.
They also lost eight times in an SEC that isn’t all that good, including a 20 point loss to an awful Missouri team.
But here is the more distressing part: Vanderbilt has 14 losses. Assuming they need an at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament, they’ll have 15 losses on Selection Sunday. There has never been an at-large team put into the field with 15 losses to their name.
Vanderbilt is going to be the team that tells us a lot about what the Selection Committee valued this year. If they get in, then a strong schedule combined with a couple of great wins and a number of good wins is more important than an impressive record devoid of losses. In other words, Vandy is the anti-Wichita State.
The bottom-line is this: Vanderbilt is right there on the but line. They are going to be one of those dozen or so teams whose at-large candidacy will be determined by just how far they get in their league tournament.