Looking at VT’s Undoing: Their Out of Conference Schedule

While Virginia Tech’s weak ACC schedule (playing the bottom five teams twice and the top six teams just once) didn’t help and the loss to last place miami in the ACC Tournament hurt, it was their out of conference schedule that did them in.  Tech played 14 out of conference games and their out of conference strength of schedule was rated 339th in the nation out of 347 teams.  Yes, it was that bad.  Tech played 16 games out of 31 against teams rated 101 or higher in the RPI, 9 games against teams ranked 200 or higher, and 3 games against teams in the 300s.  Basically, in hindsight, the Hokies had almost no chance at making the NCAA Tournament with this schedule unless they had an incredible ACC season (I thought they did with 10 wins) and a bit of a run in the ACC Tournament.

While some of that is Tech’s fault (scheduling teams like north carolina central, maryland-baltimore county, and charleston southern), some of it wasn’t.  Historically good teams like iowa were terrible this year, though VT didn’t even schedule them, that was part of the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge.  iowa finished with a RPI of 210.  penn state, who won the NIT last year, ended up with a RPI of 194.  georgia actually moved up in the world, finishing just outside the top 100 at 107 after a couple of really bad seasons.

Tech did have two nice games scheduled, neutral site games against temple (who finished with a RPI of 9) and seton hall (61 – but also didn’t make the NCAAs).  The Hokies won the seton hall game, but ultimately they needed a win over the much more highly rated owls, who won the A-10 for the third year in a row.

I won’t sit here and bash VT’s schedule.  I haven’t questioned it all year in terms of making the NCAAs.  I knew it was weak, but I figured by rolling through it at 13-1, Tech just needed to have a good ACC season.  Tech had a great ACC season, finishing 10-6.

While I won’t question VT’s schedule, the one thing that stands out to me is – where are the Virginia teams? The Hokies played just two in-state teams out of conference – longwood and vmi.  Those two teams also happen to be the two lowest rated RPI teams in the state, at 285 and 309 respectively.  Meanwhile, richmond had a RPI of 22 and old dominion at 27.  Both made the Big Dance.  william & mary had a RPI of 58 (and beat two ACC teams on the road this year that made the dance – wake and maryland) and vcu, Tech’s old Metro Conference rival, had a RPI of 66.  george mason had a semi-decent RPI at 157.  But that’s four teams in the state that had RPI’s in the top 70.

Obviously you cannot know that a year or two in advance when you set up these schedules, but you do know odu is always one of the better teams in the state, vcu is usually solid, mason made the Final Four four years ago, and richmond has been solid since joining the A-10.  The Hokies should be playing one or two of these teams every year.  And don’t you think Hokie fans would love having a game in NOVA (mason) or Richmond (richmond or vcu) or Hampton Roads area (w&m and odu) every other year or so?  Tech fans would have a chance to see the team close to home and have a chance at a quality road win, a plus in the selection process.

I’m sure we will see a beefed up schedule for the Hokies next year, with a name team or two and solid second tier teams.  And VT should get a much better draw in the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge based on their higher fourth place finish this year and likely high preseason rating in the ACC next year.  Also, Tech will be playing in the 76 Classic in Anaheim, CA in late November (VT didn’t play in a tournament during the season this year).  That tourney features two NCAA Tourney teams in oklahoma state and unlv, as well as stanford, depaul, tulsa, cal state northridge, andpenn state (whom VT is supposed to play in Blacksburg next year anyway).  But I’d also like to see more Virginia teams on the schedule.  It is good for the state and looks like it will be good for the Hokies on Selection Sunday a year from now.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1221 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • MikeK.

    Conveniently forgot about William & Mary, huh? The Tribe’s RPI is 58 – one spot ahead of VT’s.

    • Niemo

      Ah, yes! Good one, I’ll add them.

  • Les

    The Cancun Governor’s Tournament expands to 12 teams this coming fall with each team playing 3 games.

    The loss to BC was also a factor imo.

    UVA’s schedule also shows the same exclusion of stronger in-state teams.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Wickersty/554368055 Todd Wickersty

    True, our schedule sucked. Totally agree with you there. However, in years past when we had a better OOC schedule, we were shut out because we would always trip up during our OOC schedule. If it is not one thing, it’s another. We can’t win.

    Looking back we did not have a high quality win all season. In previous seasons, Seth’s teams always pulled out a big one against a highly ranked opponent. Not this year.

    Looking back now, the season boiled down to the maryland game. That was the game we needed to win more than any other because it was our best chance against a high quality opponent. We really only had two other top notch opponents (duke and temple) and both games were on the road. A victory over the terps would have been enough of a quality win to suppress the committee’s concerns over our OOC schedule.

  • Tim

    It only makes sense to play W & M , ODU, & Richmond, etc. when it is to our advantage (2 – 1 home games).

    The committee treated us like we we back in the A-10. Seth has it right on ESPN – we need a stable criteria. It changes each year with a different (unqualified) committee.

    They need former coaches and players, not ADs with agendas on the committee.

  • Telemachus

    VT would have a much better non-conference SoS and along with that a much better RPI if you replaced some of their bad-RPI wins with better-but-not-that-good RPI wins (exactly what ODU did)… let’s say 150+ or 200+ instead of 250+ and 300+. They’d be the exact same team, no better on the court, and yet somehow that would make them more deserving? Rubish. We did this to ourselves, because this is how things work and we should have known it. I I get that. But it still sticks in my craw…

    Getting 2-1 home-away schedules with the likes of ODU isn’t going to happen. I’m pretty sure we would be playing them if we could get that. But apparently we can’t. In fact, when we played ODU 3 years in a row from 2005/6 to 2007/8 it was 2 away games and only 1 at home. We smoked them in the Cassell and lost both away games by 3.

    More reading: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/blog/_/name/katz_andy/id/4925548/soft-schedule-helping-hokies

  • http://stores.ebay.com/hip-hop-heads-vinyl-crates HipHop_Hokie

    Wake’s AD being on the committee didn’t have anything to do with the fact that they made it in over us… or so I’ve been told…

    Riiiight.

  • http://stores.ebay.com/hip-hop-heads-vinyl-crates HipHop_Hokie

    Telemachus,

    How is one supposed to predict something like how VMI went from RPI 128 last year to RPI 310 this year? Or Penn State from RPI 70 to RPI 194? Or Maryland-BC from RPI 163 to RPI 333? Or Boston College from RPI 60 to RPI 125? Or how about maybe the cream of the crop… UNC from NATIONAL CHAMPIONS to RPI 92??? And that’s the Hokies fault??

    Granted, there were a few teams on our OOC schedule this year that shouldn’t have been (Brown, Charleston Southern, NC Central), but to punish a team largely because of how teams that they BEAT ended up performing overall is just a crime. If we had lost ANY of the RPI 200+ games that I mentioned then I would be fine with the NCAA snub and would understand it (see Florida’s loss to RPI 211 South Alabama), but considering that the only bad losses that we had all year were @UNC, @Miami, and @Boston College, what the committee chose to do yesterday was flat out wrong.

    And nobody will EVER convince me otherwise.

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