The VT Rules For That other tournament | Whose Corn Flakes Did We Pee In?

Every year I take a look at how absurd it is that VT didn’t make that other tournament, and ended up in the Virginia Tech Invitational (the NIT).  Clearly there seems to be one rule for the rest of the ACC, and another set for the Hokies.  Tech gets more snubs than Smith & Wesson.

In this article I’m going to break down data on Virginia Tech compared to comparable ACC teams that have made that other tournament over the last seven years (since VT entered the league).  I’ll use regular season records, and regular season plus the ACC Tournament combined wins, to analyze the data.

REGULAR SEASON ACC DATA: (Breakdown of the last seven ACC seasons)

  • 10-6: Virginia Tech is the only team to finish 10-6 in the ACC and not make the ncaa tournament (2010) at least as far back as when the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.  7 other teams have gone 10-6 in the last seven years, and all 7 made it.
  • 9-7: Amazingly, only 5 of the 9 ACC teams that have finished 9-7 in the regular season the last seven years have made the big dance.  Well, amazing until you realize Tech posted 2 of those 4 teams that didn’t make it (’08 and ’11).  The other two are florida state, who went 9-7 in 2006 and finished fifth, and boston college who went 9-7 this year and tied for fourth.
  • 8-8: 4 of the 7 teams that have finished .500 (8-8) in the league over the last seven years made the tournament.  That’s better than 50% of teams finishing just .500, and better than the odds when you go 9-7!  The Hokies, of course, didn’t make the dance when they finished .500 in 2005, and haven’t made it 3 out of 4 times when they finished OVER .500.
  • 4th Place or better: 84% of the teams that finished fourth place or higher, including tied for fourth, in the ACC regular season standings have made the ncaa tournament (27 of 32 times).  Virginia Tech fielded 4 of the 5 teams that didn’t make the tournament while finishing in fourth, or tied for fourth. bc this year is the only other team to ‘accomplish’ that feat (their mistake was being tied with VT).
  • Worse than 4th Place: In the 4 seasons where Tech finished in 4th place and didn’t make the ncaa’s, 6 different teams that finished below the Hokies in the ACC standings made the tournament.
  • Under .500: 3 teams that finished under .500 (7-9) in the league made the big dance over the last 7 years.  Granted, georgia tech won 3 ACC Tournament games last year, and maryland and nc state won two when they did it.  But it goes to show the lack of consistency and how the rules seem to work against the Hokies from year to year.

SUMMARY:

  • 86% (30/35) of the ACC teams that finished over .500 in the regular season over the last seven years made the ncaa’s.  VT represents 3 of the 5 that didn’t.
  • Remove VT and 94% of the teams (29/31) that finished over .500 made the dance.
  • 81% (34/42) of the teams that finished .500 or better made the dance.  Tech represents half of those 8 that didn’t.
  • Again, remove VT and it is 89% (33/37) that made it of teams finishing .500 or better.

ACC REGULAR SEASON RECORDS AND ncaa tournament APPEARANCES (Last 7 Seasons):

SCHOOL WINS LOSSES PCT% ncaa tourney
duke 83 29 74.1% 7
north carolina 83 29 74.1% 6
maryland 60 52 53.6% 3
florida state 58 54 51.8% 3
boston college 49 47 51.0% 4
VT HOKIES 57 55 50.9% 1
clemson 56 56 50.0% 4
wake forest 49 63 43.8% 3
miami 43 69 38.4% 1
uva 43 69 38.4% 1
nc state 42 70 37.5% 2
georgia tech 41 71 36.6% 3

^^^Just take a look at that.^^^  The ACC has 38 tournament bids in the last 7 years, and Virginia Tech has just 1 of those bids.

  • VT has the 6th best winning percentage, just 1 bid.
  • 4 of the 6 teams with worse winning percentages have more bids than VT.  3 of those 4 teams have 3 or more bids to VT’s just 1.
  • georgia tech, at just 41-71 in league play and has just 7 road wins in 6 years, has 3 bids.  And they had the second worst coach in the league that whole time!
  • I bet nc state fans sure miss Herb Sendek right now!  He got them to the tourney almost every year, Lowe is/was 0/5.

REGULAR SEASON + ACC TOURNAMENT ANOMALIES (2005-11):

Let’s look at how teams did in terms of making the ncaa tournament when getting to ‘X’ combined wins between the ACC regular season and the ACC Tournament since Tech joined the ACC (e.g. VT had 11 combined wins this year and 10 last year).

  • 11 Wins: Of the 6 teams to finish with 11 combined wins, Virginia Tech is the only team not to make the big dance.
  • 10 Wins: 10 teams have finished with 10 combined wins and 7 made the ncaa’s.  Virginia Tech represents 2 of those that didn’t (2008 and 2010).  bc this year was the other.
  • 9 Wins: 6 of 8 teams that have ended with 9 combined wins made the ncaa tournament.  Just maryland and florida state, both in 2006.  VT has never finished with exactly 9 combined wins.
  • 8 Wins: Only 2 teams have made the ncaa tournament with just 8 combined wins.  Both were in 2007 and of course duke was one of those teams, with georgia tech the other.  VT, of course, did not make it the 2 times they finished with 8 combined wins.

SAD SUMMARY:

  • Virginia Tech is the only team in the last 7 years (probably longer) in the ACC to get 11 combined ACC regular season and tournament wins, and not go dancing.
  • VT is the only team to win 10 regular season games in the last 7 years and not go to the ncaa’s.
  • 12 of 16 teams to get 10 or 11 combined ACC wins went dancing.  VT marks 3 of the 4 that didn’t (11 of 12, or 92%, of teams not named Virginia Tech made it with 10 or 11 combined wins).
  • 29 teams have received ACC Tournament First Round byes in the last 7 years.  Virginia Tech is the ONLY team to get a bye and not make the ncaa tournament… and it has happened to VT THREE TIMES (2005, 2008, and 2010).

SO WHAT DO WE DO TO CORRECT THIS?

  1. Keep playing challenging out of conference schedules: The Hokies need to keep playing schedules similar to what they did this year out of conference.  The tough thing is next year they will be young.  But, better to schedule tough and take some lumps early.  Avoid playing teams like East Popcorn State and have a horrible RPI due to a rough SOS.
  2. Play more ‘good, not great’ programs: Yes, k-state, unlv, okie state, and purdue are solid out of conference games.  But VT went just 1-3 in those games and the win was against the worst of the four.  Yes, penn state ended up being a top 50 RPI team and a ncaa team, but that was a surprise (just like how bad miss state was also a surprise and you cannot blame VT for that).  The rest of the OOC schedule was poo-poo.  The Hokies need to play more teams that are consistently around the top 100, even if it means some more road/neutral site games… road/neutral wins count more anyway.
  3. Win some of those tough OOC games: The Hokies blew grand opportunities this year.  They had purdue, a top 15 RPI team, dead to rights but choked at the end of regulation.  And they were in the k-state and unlv games before they got away.
  4. Get lucky on your ACC schedule: VT has had a very poor ACC schedule the last few years in terms of strength.  VT played unc, duke, fsu, and clemson just once in the regular season this year, and duke and fsu just once last year.  As luck would have it, unc was horrible last year when Tech played them twice.  And the biggest stroke of bad luck — by beating fsu a second time this year, VT knocked them out of the RPI top 50 and cost themselves not one but two top 50 wins.  Hard to believe the team that finished all alone in 3rd place in the ACC at 11-5 (fsu) wasn’t a top 50 team.  Not much the Hokies can do about that, but it should get better over time, and the league should get better — or at least closer to where it used to be.
  5. Figure out who we’ve cheesed off and either: a) buy them back into our good graces, or b) eliminate them!
  6. Shut up and handle your business: I do think the ‘certifiably insane’ and general conduct does take a toll.  No one likes to be told who you should take, especially from an up-start program.  Do your business on the court.  Win 10 regular season games, or 10-11 combined with the tournament, and the odds show you should get in… well, unless you are VT.  Maybe we should change our name?  Niemo U has a nice ring to it.

Here’s hoping I don’t have to update this article next year.

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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  • Ed Kelley

    Pretty sorry statistics if you’re a VT fan. I would love to hear the committee’s rationale on why VCU and USC were picked ahead of VT this year. If you know their reasoning, please let me know. I didn’t see the ESPN bracketology show, but I heard that Jay Bilas really was upset that we didn’t get picked. And Vitale also, especially since he told Seth on national TV that VT was in.

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

    Virginia Tech is the only team EVER in the ACC to get 11 combined ACC regular season and tournament wins, and not go dancing.

  • RK in Roanoke

    Niemo- excellent summary. I suggest you send it to ESPN today. I think point 6 is very important. VT complains too much during games; whetehr it is malcolm looking at the ref every time he gets bumped, or Jeff’s rep with flagrants, or Seth whining during the game. I think it does play a role. As much as we who come to this site love our Hokies, the rest of the country does not. We are not a consistent top 25 program in hoops who can get away with any nonsense. Win, and win often, and you can complain some.
    Anyway, I hope this team plays the next few games with an enormous chip on their shoulders. I fear they may just punt. Students, fill the cassel. Good luck, guys!

  • Bryan

    I’m been so pissed off all day. Can’t imagine what Greenberg and company are felling. I thought they did everything right this year, everything in their power. Still, they came up short. It’s a tough pill to swallow. The RPI infuriates me. I keep hearing Jay Bilas state that it’s a poor metric and when you take a peak at Sagarin you can see where that’s a better gauge of where teams are. VT #40, UAB #53, VCU #77. The committee says they place little emphasis on the RPI but it’s obvious that they do. There is no other logical explanation as to why UAB and VCU are in and we aren’t. Niemo, until things change you’re right. We’ve got to keep tweaking this thing until we find the formula. Longwood has got to go from the schedule. Hell, put VMI back on there, they were a full 119 spots higher in the RPI than Longwood. Get Richmond back on there. I think our schedule this year was great but I can’t help but to think that those bottom feeders must have weighed us down.

  • http://NA Lee

    I agree with your last point Niemo, and I’ve been preaching it all day today.

    I still love my Hokies and I understand we got hurt with injuries and had no depth this season, but no one is going to have a pity party for us and we don’t want it.

    Take care of business on the court and let’s finally show the selection committee that we deserved to be in the NCAA. Missing out on it sucks, but saying that we deserve a spot in the tourney, then going to the NIT and not making the finals looks real bad (’08, ’09, ’10).

    I want the departing seniors to really shine in these NIT games, win it all, and show the committee that VT Basketball is the real deal. LET’S GO HOKIES!!!

  • H-SCokie

    Great read!! Granted it’s painful and makes my blood boil. The problem is, once we actually get into the field. We’ll be jobbed by the committe and get a kiss of death with our seeding. I still haven’t forgotten 1995-1996. A top 15 team all year that ended up in the Top 10 for a short stretch. We get bounced out of the conference tourney in the first round (wait, what about body of work?). Our reward? An 8 seed, and the best part, we get to play the overall #1 seed of the tournament in the second round – Kentucky. You remember that team, they went 10 deep and carved up the field with an average margin of victory over 20pts a game in the tourney.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    I’m with Lee… what’s done is done, and you can’t undo it. Fair or not (and it certainly was not), VT has to play in the NIT. The only way you convince the Selection Committee that is made a very poor choice is to win the NIT.

  • Bobby

    Understand my perspective, I am a VCU grad, but a lifelong Hokie fan. So, Sunday was bittersweet. In fact, I told someone Sunday prior to the selection VCU might have as better resume than Tech and I was worried that the coach’s comments from previous years might bite the Hokies in the rear.

    No question they were hosed. And I think it’s even worse when you especially take into consideration the adversity this team faced.

    I really like how 2 wins against a Top 50 team go out the window when . . . you beat that team. FSU was a Top 50 win, until Tech beat the Seminoles Friday night. By Saturday, it’s no longer a Top 50 win.

    But I still believe scheduling is a major issue. The OOC schedule was much better this year, to a point. The top portion of it was vastly improved, but the middle and bottom part is still way too weak. Especially if the conference RPI is as weak as this year.

    What’s killing Tech more than anything else is this stubborn idea of how playing Old Dominion, George Mason or VCU won’t grow the brand for Tech. What grows the brand is going to the NCAA Tournament. Playing those schools . . . good teams each year with solid or better RPIs . . . would help. Playing on the road in Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, would also be good for recruiting.

    Obviously, you have to win. But I’d rather see this team lose to teams like ODU, VCU and Mason than beat up on some of the really bad teams they’ve played.

    Tech has tried that plan. Time and time again it comes up short. Perhaps it’s time for a new plan.

  • Bryan

    I agree with Lee. This is those seniors last chance to REALLY leave a legacy. Hanging an NIT Championship banner in the Cassell would be pretty sweet. I still remember the ’95 NIT Championship team with great fondness. I hope the guys go out and play angry and give it all they have.

  • chrishokie

    Great article Niemo. Thanks for addressing my post about Seth comments and bad on-court behavior in point 6. If the RPI is going to be weighed that heavily, the selection committee needs to use a conglomerate of math polls like football.

    RPI/Sag/Avg
    UAB = 28/53/41
    VT = 61/40/51
    VCU = 49/77/63

    That’s an average deviation between the two polls of 25 for these teams. That’s an awfully big spread to rely on any one poll. Maybe Bilas’s comments about RPI will catch on with others and they will make that change.

  • Ben

    There’s a very slim margin of error for playing the in-state schools like odu, vcu, george mason, richmond, etc. When we’re recruiting in VA, we get to use the fact that us and uva are the only power conference schools in the state, and that’s a great draw. If we start playing those schools more regularly, one of two things happen. Either we dominate them and we get first look at any VA recruit, or we drop a few and we get a bunch of wannabes chanting that the CAA is the only conference in Virginia. Getting John Richardson from ODU has given us such a boost in VA recruiting, (helped a ton in getting DFS if I recall), so I don’t see Seth rushing to get half the CAA for our OOC schedule to make a statement. If we keep scheduling more average (okst, unlv, psu) and a few above average (purdue) power conference teams, and amp up our ACC performance, we’ll be fine. But yes, usc upstate, uncg, longwood, and campbell have to go regardless.

  • FruitpieTheMagician

    Dayton will tell you – win the NIT – and its cool, but not a mercy ticket for next year’s NCAA Tourney. You still have to win the games you are supposed to win. With a selection committee made of almost entirely bureaucrats (athletic directors), there is no way that they are going to arrive at conclusions that will satisfy all the college basketball experts. Just plain and simple, those experts need to be on the committee. They get paid to eat/breath/sleep this game, and most importantly LOVE the game. I’m talking about Vitale, Bilas,etc..What we have now is the equivalent of a bunch of 3rd graders inn the president’s cabinet – its unfathomable! All we can do now is keep playing and win. I think Greenberg understands that. He is playing OUR team for Virginia Tech – the players themselves, the fans, the faculty, and all of Hokie Nation – and we need to be there in 100% support. Go Hokies – its been a great year – lets keep it going!

  • 86CvilleHokie

    DEATH TO THE BUBBLE–
    Somewhere in a dark room in NCAA Selection Comittee Headquarters is where they keep the bubble. It sleeps undisturbed for 8 months out of the year. Then in December, sportswriters come to visit it. They watch it closely, for they can see basketball teams with flashing RPI’s come and go along its surface. In December it is still sleepy and doesn’t show much. They feed it with thousands x thousands of words of speculation. It grows brighter. Fewer teams skitter across its surface in January. They watch it ever more closely and consult the Doctors of Bracketology to predict which teams will rise above it and which will get stuck in it. By late January they are poking it and commenting on if it is firm or soft or weak. By late February it has turned dark and nasty, and the teams that are still stuck to fight madly to climb off it. The Doctors of Bracketology prescribe winning against top 50 teams, preferably at their house, and preferably only when they are fully healthy. By the first weekend in March the bubble is black and menacing, about to eat the hearts of the teams that are stuck. In deparation the good doctors recommend conference tournament wins. They say that two usually works, but 3 is better, and 4 always works ! And then on the fateful first Sunday in March, the NCAA Selection Committee kicks all the sportswriters and BrD’s out of the room. They look down on the poor teams that are stuck on the bubble and begin to chant…. “eeny meeny miny mo…..”

    As I watched the Doctors of Bracketology on ESPN on Sunday, I was left with the impression that their outrage was really coming from the fact that the selection comittee had made a farce of their noble science. The current method of picking the tournament would almost be tolerable if they actually let Joe Lunardi set the bracket. Then at least we know that politics was not involved and would get a full explantion of how the decsion was made. All the sportswriters were against the expansion to 96 teams, because without the drama of the bubble to talk about we would spend a lot less time reading about basketball. I vote for a 96 team tourney, picked & seeded purely by some math (RPI,kenpom,whatever). If you are #97, too bad, no hoopla. Cancel all the conference tourneys to make time (they would be pointless, sorry Greensboro). Set the field and start playing. Worried about the quality of the tournament – just dont watch the first week. More basketball, no soap opera.

  • Danram

    I think it’s obvious that, for at least as long as this current selection committee is in place, the bar for VT to make the NCAA tournament is going to be set higher than for other ACC schools.

    Simply put, if we’re in the “Last Four In / Last Four Out” discussion at the end of the season, we ain’t gonna get in. That’s obvious by now. So we’re just gonna have to win enough games to where our participation in the tournament is a foregone conclusion.

    Although we were, no doubt, screwed yesterday, at the same time had we not lost to UVA twice and to Georgia Tech, we’d have been in with ease in spite of the committee’s obvioius prejudice against VT and/or the ACC.

  • vtgobbler

    Wow. Great article (“The Great Snub – Episode 4″). I had just calmed down enough to read some articles on VT but now I’m just totally t’d off once again. WTF is wrong with those people (aka ‘the committee’)!

    I guess we suck it up, add another big chip to the shoulder and beat the snott out of the NIT field.

    GO HOKIES!!!

  • Bobby

    I hear you, but that’s the problem, Tech is the wannabe right now.

    All four of those teams have earned an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament during the same time frame that Tech has and that is without the “advantage” of playing in the ACC.

    All four of those programs are doing more with less. I think Niemo’s research has shown the ACC has not given Tech the boost with the committee anyone expected. The idea that those four are little sisters is outdated. Play them. Beat them and let their good records and RPIs work for you.

    And while we’re at it. Let’s get WVU back on the schedules for basketball and football.

  • chuck

    What about this angle:

    We were never officially welcomed to the ACC by it’s original 9 member institutions. The closest we came to being welcomed was when Littlepage, Warner, Casteen all toasted glasses of Cristal and said cha-ching.

    This is particularly true of basketball. In football, they grudgingly accept that they need us, at least now they do that all the traditional, “blue-blood” football schools like Miami, FSU, Clemson continuously underachieve.

    But if you recall, we were welcomed to the ACC at Cameron by Duke Edsall, John Swofford, and the collective vitriol of the bitter members who felt we were beneath them. If you recall, Seth got ejected, we lost by about 25 (game wasn’t even that close), and were mocked on national TV on a Sunday night FoxSports broadcast.

    If you recall, the Dockery game…we all lament this game for obvious reasons. But does anyone recall how they manipulated the clock to get them extra time? The scorekeeper conveniently messed up. We haven’t gotten a single break until Friday night. And that was because tape don’t lie. And only because it was against another basketball outsider: FSU. They aren’t considered true blue members on the basketball side either.

    But do you think we have anyone from the ACC fighting our publicity battle? Swofford? Silent…this guy Wellman from Wake? undoubtedly cut some kind of deal for Duke/UNC in terms of where they get to play. His agenda wasn’t us, that’s for sure.

    Not sure when, if ever, we’ll truly be considered part of this conference. But it won’t be soon. They’ll enjoy our BCS bowl profits, and our football brand. But they’ll never back our play when political pressure can be otherwise utilized to help out the old-school member institutions.

  • chuck

    One little thing to add:

    I had told all my VT friends on our email thread that i fully expected the media to camp out at whatever venue our team watched the Selection show at.

    And that when we gave them access i expected us to be mentioned in the final groupings so that they could have a full half hour of footage of our group being tortured, in order to cement our legacy of being bubble bound.

    And that WHEN we got announced that we would be expected to shed tears and act like a dog you had been teasing with a begging strip. Grateful and subservient. Not a pack leader.

    Sure am glad we didn’t allow that access now. The only thing more disgusting than the scene i just described is what actually took place. And am glad we had the smarts to bypass that embarassment.

  • 86CvilleHokie

    DEATH TO THE BUBBLE — Alternate Ending

    The selection committee looks at the bubble, and their first move is to pick the 4 best teams off of it, and consign them to being #1 seeds in the NIT. Don’t forget that the NCAA owns the NIT now, and wants drama there too for the sake of TV Ratings. Take away the top 4 seeds in the NIT and there is not much left.

  • chrishokie

    So, 86Cville, are you saying that the NCAA may have put VT and Alabama or Colorado in the original field but then realized that this would weaken the NIT too much (with VCU and UAB as #1 seeds)? I know that the NIT has always liked VT because they know we will sell out all our homes games. I have seen many an NIT game at other places with very thin crowds.

    Also, interesting that all 4 #1 seeds are from major conferences and from different markets of the country – Northeast, Mid-Atl, SE and Rocky MT.

    That’s an interesting thought although that would be a crappy way to reward a team for having good fans.

    • Niemo

      Chris – tomorrow night will NOT be anywhere near a sellout. We never broke 7,100 fans for any of our three NIT games last year, and that was even with uconn coming to town.

  • chrishokie

    ok, thanks for correcting that.

  • chrishokie

    I should have said “big crowds”. We used to get a game or two at home in the NIT before they started seeding and fixing brackets. And I thought it was because we drew bigger crowds than other venues.

  • 86CvilleHokie

    chrishokie — Yeah, thats the thought I had. It is just too messed up to be justified. It takes either casual negligence, political scheming or basic greed to explain it. I think even Jay Bilas said something like it doesn’t really matter who the last 4 teams in are… they aren’t going to win the championship.
    If the comittee cares a lot more about #1 seeds than last 4 in, it leave room for motivations other than getting the best teams in the bracket.

    To be fair, Jay also acknowleged that it is still hugely important to the players and coaches on the edge.

    The other part about the whole process that I dont like is that the need for a team to prove itself in December in order to be rewarded in March is stupid. It’s not like these are pro teams with the same rosters year in and year out. Every year key players leave and new ones show up. The current system punishes those teams that have work to do in December but are playing great ball by the end of the season.

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