Do the Hokies Have a Shot at the Big Dance?

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Thanks to a three-game winning streak and a high spot in the ACC standings,
NCAA tournament talk has been a focus on the basketball board recently. The
Hokies are 17-11, 8-6 in the ACC, and sit at fourth in the conference standings.
They’ve got a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. At this point you can make a
case for the Hokies, but you can make a stronger case against them.

Obviously, there are several key ingredients for a team that is likely to get
invited to the NCAA tournament, namely wins, conference wins, RPI, and top 50
wins.

Currently, Virginia Tech is 17-11 overall and 8-6 in the ACC. With two
regular season games remaining, as well as the ACC tournament, the Hokies’
chances look decent from a pure wins standpoint. Then you look at the RPI and
top 50 wins, and things don’t look so good.

In
the official NCAA RPI rankings, the Hokies were 64th before their win over
Boston College on Tuesday night. Since the Eagles aren’t even in the Top 100, and the
game was in Blacksburg, Tech isn’t likely to move up more than a couple of spots
when the new ratings are released next Monday. A couple of teams have gotten
at-large berths with pretty low RPIs (#74 New Mexico in 1999, #70 Air Force in
2004), but not many.

One of the reasons Tech’s RPI is so low is they haven’t beaten any Top 50
teams. Tech’s ACC wins have come against #119 UVA (twice), #105 Boston College
(twice), #66 Maryland (twice), #87 Georgia Tech and #77 Florida State.

Contrast that to last season, when the Hokies had victories over #4 UNC
(twice), #16 Maryland, #18 Duke, #31 Boston College, #46 Old Dominion and #50
Virginia. Not to mention #54 Georgia Tech, who finished just outside the RPI Top
50. That’s a much better argument than the Hokies have this year.

This is just the third year of a 12-team ACC, so there’s no sense in going
back in time and saying that no 10-6 ACC team has ever failed to make the NCAA
tournament, or only two 9-7 teams have

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