Update 2: The NCAA released a statement further explaining how this mistake occurred. In short, the app used by the NCAA to send texts to the various teams to congratulate them accidentally sent the message to South Carolina instead of Vanderbilt.
">March 31, 2016
Update: According to WISTV, South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner confirmed that the Gamecocks were mistakenly invited to the tournament:
According to USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner, Frank Martin and the Gamecocks were notified by NCAA officials around 6:30 p.m. that they had been invited to the NCAA Tournament with a record of 24-8.
Ten minutes later, NCAA officials called South Carolina back and told them their invitation was a mistake, Tanner said. The NCAA Selection Committee instead selected the Vanderbilt Commodores.
While the Gamecocks wouldn't have been favored to make a deep tournament run, you never know in March. That's a rough mistake by whomever made the original phone call.
Earlier: Vanderbilt was one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament, and with a 19-13 record, some thought that conference rival South Carolina (24-8) was a more deserving third SEC team. According to a brief blurb at Nola.com, South Carolina was actually informed that it had a spot in the tournament from a travel organizer, but then never received a call back to confirm its spot in the 68-team field.
It looked like the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee giving Vanderbilt the gift of an invitation as one of the last teams in the 68-team field had saved Commodores' coach Kevin Stallings job.
And even that invite was in question because sources told me that the person that makes the travel arrangements for NCAA tournament teams had actually called South Carolina, told the Gamecocks they had been invited, then said to hold on and they would call back in 10 minutes.
South Carolina never got the return call. Vandy got the NCAA bid and then promptly lost by 20 points to Wichita State in one of the tourney's First Four games in Dayton.
Hopefully that false news didn't reach the actual team, because that is a brutal tease for a team looking to make its first NCAA Tournament since 2004. The Gamecocks took a solid leap forward this year with Frank Martin at the helm, so maybe next year they'll get the real call.