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On Selection Sunday, the Hokies are hoping for the best

All Virginia Tech could do on Saturday was watch. But as conference tournaments either wrapped up or neared a conclusion, the Hokies surely couldn't have liked the view.

As a bubble team, Virginia Tech needed the limited number of at-large bids to be protected to help its chances. In other words, it couldn't afford having surprise teams win their conference tournaments. Well, on Saturday, just about all the could have gone wrong for the Hokies did go wrong, and the bubble constricted tightly.

Perhaps as many as three bids were stolen in conference tournaments, and with the bracket unveiling mere hours away, the Hokies are sweating, and their coach, Seth Greenberg, could probably wouldn't need more than one hand to count the hours of sleep he got on Saturday night.

There was some good news. Virginia Tech probably befitted from Ohio State's double-over win over Illinois, a bubble team that could now be one of the last four out of the field of 65, in the Big Ten semifinals on Friday. Also, the Hokies had to be happy to see Temple defeat Rhode Island, which now could be out of the bracket, in the Atlantic 10 semifinals.

Other than that, there was a lot of bad news for Virginia Tech. The Hokies are 3-4 against teams in the top 50 of the Ratings Percentage Index, but have a nonconference schedule that ranks 339th in the RPI, a smudge on their resume that may be too unsightly to overcome.

The bid-snatching started early Saturday, with Houston's upset of Texas-El Paso in the Conference USA tournament. Houston swiped a spot from someone, perhaps UTEP, to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. UTEP is now on the bubble to get in the NCAA tournament; it is 2-1 against teams in the RPI top 50 but has a pair of losses to teams outside the top 100 and a poor nonconference schedule.

More gut-wrenching scores filtered in. Washington knocked off California in the Pacific 10 tournament championship. The Golden Bears are seemingly in good position for an at-large berth. They rank in the RPI top 20 but have three bad losses and are only 1-6 against the RPI top 50.

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas fell to San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference title game. That ensured a bid for the bubble-sitting Aztecs, who may have played their way in regardless after beating New Mexico on Friday, and it also meant that UNLV would need an at-large place in the bracket.

And the night rounded out with another potential for a line to be stolen from the bracket. Utah State fell to New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference title game. Utah State now might get an at-large berth. It was 2-1 against teams in the RPI top 50 but had two losses to teams outside the top 100.

Also, Minnesota beat Purdue to advance to the Big Ten championship on Sunday, and Mississippi State knocked off Vanderbilt to move to the Southeastern Conference title game.

Both Minnesota and Mississippi State are sitting on the bubble, so they could assure themselves a berth by winning. The Golden Gophers take on Ohio State while Mississippi State plays Kentucky. Hokies fans should be cheering for both Ohio State and Kentucky to win, which would give Virginia Tech the slightest bit of room to breathe before the brackets are announced, although it wouldn't guarantee anything.

But if Sunday is anything like Saturday, it could be an unhappy offseason for Virginia Tech.

By Mark Viera  |  March 14, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
 
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