It's Selection Sunday! The committee will announce its bracket this afternoon, so here is a sneak preview of what is to come.
How many bids will the SEC get?
At most, four. The Texas A&M Aggies and Kentucky Wildcats are comfortably in. The South Carolina Gamecocks are less comfortable but are probably in.
The Vanderbilt Commodores are going to have to sweat it out today after losing to Tennessee in their only SEC Tournament game. The collected wisdom of bracketologists out there do not have the 'Dores in the bracket. Right now, the SEC probably is a three-bid league.
What kinds of seeds are we looking at?
The majority of bracket projections out there have UK as a 3-seed or 4-seed, while A&M is mostly is seeing 4-seed and 5-seed guesses. When bracketologists are including South Carolina, which is getting distressingly less common, they're generally being slated as a 10-seed or 11-seed. When people are putting Vandy in, it's almost always as an 11-seed.
Should I join the TSK pick 'em group?
Yes! It's now open right here. The password for it is secspeed.
This is all very disappointing, isn't it?
Yes. Vandy was in the preseason polls. LSU has a couple of the best freshmen in the country with a supporting cast that was a supporting cast for a tournament team last year. Florida was looking in until it just stopped beating decent teams a few weeks ago. Ole Miss lost a chance at being a bubble team with a hard luck injury run in late January and early February.
The SEC made some good hires last offseason, but the upshot for this year was that Ben Howland, Avery Johnson, and Rick Barnes coached their non-tournament teams to some wins that hurt the SEC's bubble teams. It's good news for the future of the SEC, but it's bad news for this year.
What are Vandy's chances, really?
Not great. Vandy's sitting on an unimpressive RPI of 60. It has two losses to teams in the RPI 100-150 range in Arkansas and Tennessee and one in the 150+ range in Mississippi State. Vandy played its way onto the bubble by beating Texas A&M and Kentucky in February, but those are its only two RPI top-50 wins. Its only non-conference win of note was Stony Brook. The Seawolves also happen to be the only NCAA Tournament-bound team the Commodores beat other than UK and A&M, and they're only in because they won the one-bid America East Conference Tournament.
The biggest thing that Vanderbilt has in its favor is that computer rankings love them. VU is No. 26 in today's KenPom ratings. The five teams ahead of them are Cal, Duke, Maryland, Baylor, and Gonzaga. Four of those teams have long been tourney locks, and the Zags won the WCC Tournament to gain inclusion. They're in the neighborhood of some very good teams.
If Wichita State’s in and Vanderbilt’s out (I say if), the Commodores will be the highest-ranked eligible KenPom team left out in 12 years.— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) March 12, 2016
What key bubble results came from yesterday?
Arkansas-Little Rock did its part to keep the Sun Belt a one-bid league by beating ULL 72-65, but San Diego State failed to do the same in the MW by losing 68-63 to Fresno State. SDSU is now on the bubble, but it's difficult to say whether it's in or out since, by custom, bracketologists have been slotting them with the MW auto-bid.
UConn may have punched its ticket by beating Temple 77-62 in the AAC semis, but that could have put the Owls out. They also have been getting the auto-bid treatment like SDSU thanks to being the 1-seed in the American, so it's similarly difficult to guess what's up with Temple.
Elsewhere, VCU solidified its place in the bracket by knocking off Davidson 76-54. Michigan finally lost in the Big Ten Tournament 76-59 to Purdue, but like UConn, it might have played its way in via the conference tournament.
Here's one more look at the Bubble Big Board:
|Conference||Acceptable Champions||Bubble Teams|
|Sun Belt||Arkansas-Little Rock||Arkansas-Little Rock|
Conferences in bold either did not have a bid thief or cannot have one today.
As you can see, there was much carnage in the mid-majors with the Horizon, MAAC, Mountain West, MVC, and WCC all potentially being two-bid leagues when they could have been one-bid leagues for sure. Some number of those conferences shrank the bubble at the expense of teams like Vandy.
One conference that didn't shrink the bubble at VU's expense was the SEC. No bid thieves remain with Texas A&M and Kentucky playing in the final.
What is Vandy's rooting guide for today?
The biggest thing Vanderbilt needs is Arkansas-Little Rock to beat ULM in the Sun Belt final to keep that conference a one-bid league.
Right up there with that is having UConn beat Memphis in the AAC finale. UConn is a fellow bubble team, but it's probably on the right side of the bubble. There is little sense in hoping a Memphis win that would give the Tigers an auto-bid will be enough to knock the Huskies out. That's probably not going to happen, so keeping Memphis from stealing a bid is paramount.
The A10 final probably doesn't matter at this point because St. Joe's is in and VCU likely is too, but having St. Joseph's win at least would preserve the possibility of VCU being left out.