On the heels of Sunday night’s 67-55 loss at Duke, Virginia Tech is now 21-5
and 8-4 in the ACC. In most years that would be considered a lock for the NCAA
tournament, but because of Tech’s non-conference schedule, they are going to
need to win two more games to feel confident about a tournament invite.
For the first time, let’s go ahead and talk about Virginia Tech’s NCAA
tournament chances. Their resume is as follows:
Overall Record: 21-5
ACC Record: 8-4
Record vs. Top 50: 2-3
Record vs. Top 100: 6-5
Key Wins: Clemson, Wake Forest
Bad Losses: None
There are good things and bad things about that resume. The three good things
obviously stand out. First off, Tech is 21-5 and 8-4. Those are excellent
records. Secondly, they’ve done a solid job facing Top 50 and Top 100 teams this
year. Finally, they have not lost to anyone ranked outside the Top 100.
The one bad part of their resume is the non-conference schedule. Tech’s
non-conference strength of schedule ranks #335 out of 347 teams. That’s not
good, but if the Hokies go 10-6 in the ACC that schedule won’t matter.
While it’s easy to criticize the Hokies for playing a soft schedule before
ACC play began, you also have to give them credit for winning all of their
non-conference games other than Temple. They didn’t have any bad losses, taking
care of business against Campbell, Iowa, Penn State, etc.
Contrast that to Maryland’s non-conference schedule. The Terps played three
teams in the Top 50, and also #56 Cincinnati. And what happened to them? They
lost all four games, to Villanova, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and William & Mary.
Their best non-conference win came against #106 Fairfield. Maryland is seeded
higher than the Hokies in all of the current bracketology projections, so in
effect the Terps are being rewarded for losing to all of their quality opponents
in their non-conference schedule.
What if the Hokies had replaced UMBC and NC Central with Villanova and
Purdue? They’d probably be 19-7 now, but their RPI would be higher and the
bracketologists would probably have them as a #7 seed, or thereabouts, rather
than a #9 or #10 like most currently
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