Saturday, March 7, 2009

Only once has 8-8 been great for Commodores

While a .500 conference record will get you a bowl bid in football (see last season's Commodores), it will not, usually, get you an NCAA tournament berth in basketball.

OK, there are 34 bowl games, so maybe being among the top 68 college football teams isn't that big a deal when there are only 119 college football teams. And maybe getting an NIT bid and being among the top 96 college basketball teams isn't so shabby when you consider there are nearly 350 college basketball teams.

So maybe getting a bid to the Music City Bowl is comparable to getting a bid to the NIT. Whadya think of that?

Anyway, if Vanderbilt beats Arkansas tomorrow at home, it'll be the fourth time in Kevin Stallings' 10 seasons that the Commodores have finished 8-8:

• 2000: Vandy won in the first round and lost in the second round of the SEC tournament, got an NIT bid and lost in the first round.

• 2004: Vandy won in the first and second rounds, lost in the semi-finals, got an NCAA bid and went to the Sweet 16 behind Matt Frieje, losing to eventual champion UConn.

• 2005: Vandy lost in the first round, got an NIT bid and went to the third round before losing.

The experts say this year's Vanderbilt team will have to make it to the SEC tournament finals to even be in the discussion for an NCAA bid. That'll be highly improbable. Vanderbilt doesn't traditionally play well in the tournament. Under Stallings, the team is 5-3 in the first round, but only 1-5 in the quarterfinals, and 0-1 in the semifinals.

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