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Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Could the ACC cost Virginia Tech an NCAA tournament bid?

By Mark Giannotto

Now that we've reached a break in the season for the Virginia Tech men's basketball team, it's about time we start taking a closer look at just what the Hokies need to accomplish in order to make the NCAA tournament.

I figured a good launching point for this would be to compare this year's resume with that of the 2009-10 Hokies, who just barely missed out on the NCAA tournament. Take a look below at some of the RPI-centric stats I've gathered as a form of comparison. What you see might surprise you.

2010-2011

Current RPI: 68

Average RPI of opponents: 140
Average RPI win: 176
Average RPI loss: 63
Average RPI nonconference games: 165.9
Average RPI ACC games (including remaining games): 104.25
SOS: 82
Nonconference SOS: 159
Road-Neutral: 7-5

2009-2010

RPI: 59

Average RPI of opponents: 142.6
Average RPI win: 170.9
Average RPI loss: 61.5
Average RPI non conference games: 219
Average RPI ACC games (including ACC tournament): 79.8
Overall SOS: 133
Nonconference SOS: 339
Road-Neutral: 8-7

So what should you take from that? For one, there was a lot of talk in the preseason about how Virginia Tech upgraded its nonconference schedule from a year ago. And the numbers bear proof of this, as the Hokies have gone from 339th to 159th in terms of nonconference scheduling.

But what sticks out to me is everything else. You'd expect the Hokies' numbers in every category to be significantly upgraded given the more challenging schedule to start the year. But despite the tougher nonconference schedule this season, the RPI numbers of the 2010-11 Hokies are nearly identical to the 2009-10 Hokies, who fell short of an NCAA tournament.

This just goes to show how much worse the ACC is this year. The lowest-rated ACC opponent in terms of RPI that Virginia Tech faced a year ago was Virginia (127), and only two conference teams finished outside the RPI top 100. This year, three teams -- Wake Forest (241), Virginia (150) and Georgia Tech (165) -- all currently have a worse RPI than that, while North Carolina State (100) is in danger of falling outside of the RPI top 100 soon.

And even though Virginia Tech gets to face the Cavaliers, Demon Deacons and Yellow Jackets two times apiece this season, that's not necessarily all its cracked up to be. So far the Hokies are 1-2 against those three teams, and even if they win their remaining three games against them, it won't have much of an effect on their NCAA tournament chances.

What does all this mean for these current Hokies? Well, it's important to note that the RPI is a fluctuating entity, so for all we know these RPI figures could go up or they could go down depending on how the teams on Virginia Tech's schedule do the rest of the way. Something else to keep in mind is that the NCAA tournament selection committee may view a weak conference schedule differently than a weak nonconference schedule, since the Hokies have no choice when devising it.

Regardless, it's becoming abundantly clear that to feel any sort of comfort heading into the final weeks of the season, the Hokies need a signature win of some kind, whether it comes against Duke, Boston College (if the Eagles don't falter themselves) or in the ACC tournament.

If they don't get one, a repeat of last year's Selection Sunday disappointment could be on the way.

By Mark Giannotto  | February 9, 2011; 10:48 AM ET
 
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Next: Struggling Georgia Tech limps into rematch with Virginia Tech

Comments

So if I follow your logic, Mark-Man, if you upgrade your non-conference schedule, you improve your chances to go to the Big Dance, but if your conference is worse this year compared to last, then your chances of being invited to the Big Dance are lessened. Rather than blaming the ACC, I have a better suggestion for your next column: "The effects of losing games."

Posted by: JEGman | February 9, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

for those of us who read these columns, only occasionally, please define the abbreviations eg. RPI, SOS, etc.Please do notassume everyone is up on all the jargon.

Posted by: johnt81 | February 9, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Mark, Mark, Mark. See JEGman's post. All my beloved Hokies have to do to get in the dance is win. Purdue. UNC. BC. UVa. GT. Woulda, coulda...

Losing key games like this puts us in the position of relying on someone else to determine our destiny - other teams and the committee. I prefer to control (what I can) my own destiny. Perhaps Greenberg should try the same...

Posted by: teden | February 9, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the Hokies is not that the ACC is mediocre this year. The problem is that the Hokies have a mediocre record in the ACC this year. If they have a 7-2 record in the league they are 17-5 overall and we are discussing seeding not bubbles. We aren't talking about a team taking care of business and the league dragging them down. They have dragged themselves down.

Posted by: ouvan59 | February 9, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

With the 68 teams getting in - they would have made it last year.

However, if they end up at the same place as last year, I would rather see them do well in the NIT rather than getting knocked out in the first round.

Posted by: charley42 | February 9, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse


For the last two years, VT had an arguable case for inclusion in the NCAA tournament.

This year they'll have an argument as well.

All they need to do is win games. Even with their current schedule.

Posted by: Benson | February 9, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

This is the same storyline people tried to write for the Tech Football team this year ...

A weak ACC didn't prepare them for the bowl game.

Give me a break. In both cases, football and basketball, it's called taking care of your own and winning games. Don't blame the conference. Blame yourself for not executing.

Posted by: sknyluv | February 10, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

VT will cost VT a NCAA berth. Period.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 10, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

If VT plays at the level that it established in January, they shouldn't have a problem winning games in February, and will get in.

They just have to win against other ACC teams at this point.

Posted by: Benson | February 13, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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