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Bracketology Breakdown

Yesterday, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi released his first BRACKETOLOGY of the season.  In past years I’ve steered clear of talking about the NCAA Tournament before mid-February, but what the heck, it is the dog days of the college bball season as finals wind down, Winter Break starts, and conference play is still three weeks away.  And it is a new era under James Johnson so let’s re-open old wounds all over again.

Where is Virginia Tech, you ask?  I think you already know — Tech is the first team listed amongst the First Four OUT.  Do you think Lunardi forgets to update his list each year and the Hokies just get stuck there?  Or do you think he has VT permanently coded into that spot to save himself time?

Either way, there are some head scratchers.  Namely the fact that florida state (5-4 with a RPI around 150) and uva (8-2 but with a RPI at 125) are in.  Well, they are the Last Four In according to Lunardi.  The simple fact is he’s basing that on history and potential – fsu has been a regular in the top third of the ACC for several years now and won the ACC Tournament last year, while uva has shown improvement since getting guards back from injury.  And the hoos went to the dance last year.  But if the Selection Committee was picking today, those two teams wouldn’t even be on the bubble.

Now, back to the Hokies.  What is killing the Hokies now, and likely will all season, is their strength of schedule (SOS).  It should probably be called their Schedule of Weakness (SOW).  Tech’s SOS is rated anywhere from 307th to 315th in various RPI sites out there.  That’s out of 347 Division I teams.  That’s not good.  As a result, the Hokies’ RPI is right at 100.  Tech has played four teams at 290 or higher in the RPI, while playing just three top 100 teams, going 2-1 in those games (although wvu will likely drop out of the top 100 soon with their loss to duquesne on Tuesday).  georgia southern is in the mid-200s, bradley is around 130, and byu is a top 100 team.  So the SOS should go up slightly as Tech wraps up out of conference (OOC) play, but not much.

As for conference play, once again the ACC isn’t the gray mare she used to be.  8 of Tech’s 18 ACC games are against teams currently at 125 or higher in the RPI.

The Hokies do play 6 games against teams currently in the top 50: two against #1 duke, two against #42 miami, and one against #50 unc and #11 nc state.  But that’s it, the ACC has just four teams in the top 50 with just two in the top 25.

I guess this all just proves why I never looked at this stuff so early.  1) We tend to play a weak schedule, and 2) things will change so much over the next three months.  Look at last year – Tech looked great OOC and had an easy ACC schedule to open league play, but lost to wake forest, fsu, and bc to start.  And as for all these current RPIs, they will be very fluid.  If Tech keeps winning, their RPI will go up and up as their schedule gets tougher.  Meanwhile, teams like mvsu (#116 in the RPI despite being 0-6) and florida gulf coast (#53 in the RPI) and pacific (#44 at 4-4) and the strangest of all, stephen f. “smith” austin, who is #13 in the RPI despite having only played four games and just one team higher than #175 (#6 a&m who beat them), will drop like a rock.  So let’s see what happens.

Meanwhile, we can keep enjoying the Hokies’ product on the court and know that at least we are in the conversation… again.  I think we’ll take another painful late February and early March on the bubble over last year.

FYI: The ACC has 7 teams IN in Lunardi’s list, tied with the Big(14)10 and Big East for the most:

  • duke – #1 seed
  • unc – #5 seed
  • nc state – #6 seed
  • miami – #8 seed
  • maryland – #11 seed
  • fsu – #11 seed
  • uva – #12 seed

Also, four future ACC teams are IN:

  • syracuse – #2 seed
  • louisville – #2 seed
  • notre dame – #6 seed
  • pitt – #8 seed

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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  • RK in Roanoke

    Curious – when Lunardi does these, is he making the case for where teams are now or is he predicting where they will be by the end of the year?

    If it is a prediction of where he thinks teams will be come end of Feb, that’s way better than most had us 6 weeks ago.

    • Niemo

      It has to be where he thinks they’ll end up. As I said, fsu in in the mid-150s in the RPI and losses to south alabama and mercer, and a 25 point loss at home to florida that wasn’t even that close (they had 15 points at the half and trailed 62-25 with 8:30 left). Now, why he thinks they’ll become a NCAA team (or uva for that matter), I have no idea.

      • RK in Roanoke

        Concur – given that having us first out shows that he thinks we will progress this year, I like it.

        Progress, improvement each game ought to be this team’s mantra. As you said in an earlier posts comments, we are not a consistently good team right now. We need to improve on the boards, defensively, and frankly in dumb lazy fouls.
        But if there is that improvement, we have a shot a being in the conversation in feb. All in all that would be an outstanding first year for JJ.
        And they are much more fun to watch.

      • goodraisin

        Strangely enough, this isn’t the case… he always does his brackets as if the NCAA tournament was starting tomorrow. With that being the case, it definitely makes FSU and UVA being in over VT a real head-scratcher.

        • Niemo

          By that logic, VT doesn’t deserve to be in, either (SOS in the 300s and a RPI of 100).

  • Ryan

    UVAs sorry excuse for a basketball team shouldn’t have made the NCAAs last year… its like they punched their ticket within the first 10 games… after that they were awful… its obviously a biased system… the selection committee… unfortunately VT is on the wrong side of the bias… we can thank Greenberg for his classy comments!

  • Ryan

    UVA… .500 over their last 16 games last year with their biggest win in that span being N.C. State… lost in the first round of the ACC tourney… how does a selection committee look at them and say… oh yea their IN! and oh yea, they lost in the first round of the Big Dance becuase they shouldn’t have been there in the first place… Wake Forest is another team… They always get a 4 or 5 seed without earning it and usually lose in the first round because the biased system put them where they shouldn’t have been in the first place…

    • Niemo

      uva leveraged a win over michigan all year last year. That game seemingly punched their ticket back in November.

  • Ryan W

    Yea i dont worry about this right now and am pretty confident that VT will finish ahead of fsu and uva in the ACC. It is frustrating to see him have those two in but we will see. Just hope we can stay out of foul trouble (easily why we lost to wvu)and box out on the boards. Rebounding is 90% effort, i dont care if your man has an inch or two on you. I also hope we stop double teaming guys who dont deserve a double team, especially that far away from the hoop. I mean have some confidence in your guys one on one. Also interesting to note that Green was fighting flu-like symptoms against wvu and didnt practice the last couple days before the game. Amazing considering his stat line for that game.

  • HipHop_Hokie

    I think we’re still feeling the effects of Seth’s “strategic” scheduling… hopefully we’ll be able to overcome it this year by piling up a few more quality wins. And in the future, perhaps JJ will be a little more willing to test his squads with bigger OOC matchups, if we can get them.

  • FruitpietheMagician

    I must be missing something…we/ESPN/Greenberg were talking about SOS deficiencies in 2006. While I like the wins, we are in 2012-13 and that issue “should” be a non-issue. We have had years to schedule real challenges and we have failed to do so. So again, I am missing something. It is something we could have fixed, but failed to do. I would think that our Athletic Director would have chimed in on this issue years ago. Other teams would like to play us I would imagine, so why is this STILL A FACTOR!!!

    • Niemo

      Honestly, I don’t know what you blame our schedule on. Do teams not want to give us home and homes? And we aren’t a big enough name to play in the Maui tourney or other big early season made for TV games. We finally got a deal with wvu worked out, and now they stink. I think the one think we could control is playing the in-state teams. Lots of good programs in this state. Would potentially losing to them really hurt us? No. We are in the ACC and they aren’t. As for other match-ups, we’ve tried (ksu, byu, ok st, etc). We just need more of them.

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