The Vanderbilt Commodores history in the NCAA Tournament dates back to the middle of the 1960’s. Following a season that saw the Dores win their first ever SEC basketball championship, the 1965 Vanderbilt basketball team became the first team in school history to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Roy Skinner led Commodores team won more than 20 games for only the 2nd time in Vanderbilt basketball history and took on De Paul in the Sweet 16. The Commodores took down DePaul 83-78 in overtime to post their first victory in the Big Dance. The win propelled Vanderbilt to the Elite 8, which remains the closest to the NCAA Tournament Final that Vanderbilt has achieved to date.
Nine years after their first NCAA Tournament game, Vanderbilt returned to March Madness in 1974. Once again led by legendary coach Roy Skinner, the 1974 Vanderbilt Commodores had just posted their 2nd SEC basketball championship and had won 23 games. Despite this momentum, Vanderbilt was upset in the Sweet 16 by eventual National Runner-Up Marquette. The Commodores would experience a 14 year hiatus from the NCAA Tournament, before starting one of the most successful eras in school history. In 1988, Vanderbilt returned to the Big Dance, as a #7 seed. Behind coach C.M. Newton’s leadership, Vandy would win two games, including an overtime upset of the #2 seed Pittsburgh to reach the Sweet 16.
Only one season later, Vanderbilt would return to the NCAA Tournament, marking the first time that the team had played in back to back NCAA Tournaments. In 1999, Vanderbilt would announce the hiring of Kevin Stallings as the school’s head basketball coach. Behind Stallings leadership Vanderbilt would achieve their most successful period in the NCAA Tournament, Reaching the Sweet 16 in 2004, and 2007 and reached the big dance again in 2008, 2010, and 2011.