Let’s look back at what went wrong on Friday and how much we have to sweat it out on Sunday.
Wow, it was a fun, but rough couple of days in Greensboro. Good time had by all, though the Weekend Warrior is going to be the end of me.
- The Hokies are now 0-2 in ACC Tournament games at the Greensboro Coliseum and just 1-8 all time there against current ACC teams. Unfortunately, the tourney is going to be there four of the next five years so VT better figure out how to win there.
- The loss snapped the Hokies’ streak of winning their first tournament game in 10 straight tournaments, including the last three ACC Tournaments.
- I really liked the half-court trap Seth employed early in the game. It created a lot of turnovers from the canes and forced their bigs to handle the ball away from the hoop in uncomfortable situations. The canes had 18 turnovers for the game to just eight for VT. Despite that, Tech had just a 16-10 edge in points off turnovers. VT had 13 steals compared to just four by the canes. miami does not have strong ballhandlers and that trap really exposed that.
- Tech’s two starting guards and top two scorers, Delaney and Hudson, were just 8/31 from the field yesterday. They made just one shot combined in the second half and scored just 1 point in final 15:55. The miami 2-3 zone dared the Hokies to shoot threes. Tech was hitting them early, and Terrell Bell was nailing them all game, but VT really struggled to hit outside shots in the final 32 minutes of play. VT was just 3/12 in the second half and Bell hit all three of those. Hudson and Delaney were a combined 2/14 from behind the arc.
- I can’t be hard on Malcolm. Every player, even a star, has an off day. It just came at a terrible time – in the ACC Tournament. What also concerned me was the way Durand Scott owned Delaney, who was manning up Scott, in the final three minutes. Scott had 9 points in the final three minutes and was unstoppable on the drive and finishing. But in hindsight, Scott may just be that good. The freshman really had a coming out party this tournament. He had 38 points in the final two cane games, including 21 against duke. So he’s pretty good. Still, it was a rough day on offense and defense for Malcolm except for his four steals on defense.
- Delaney had scored at least 13 points in every other ACC game this season. miami held him to just 7. He had reached double digits in all but two regular season games.
- I have to wonder if Dorenzo Hudson’s conditioning was off. He hadn’t played in nine days and he has missed a lot of practice time due to his foot injury. That has to effect your endurance at some point. Yet he gutted out 39 minutes of play yesterday, including the whole second half. Zo came out hot as a pistol Friday, scoring 11 of Tech’s first 15 points and 13 of their first 22, but had just three points the rest of the way. He had just one point in the second half. After starting out 4/5 from the field, he was just 1/11 in the final 30 minutes.
- Jeff Allen continues to be a beast. The inner tube posted his third double-double in four games. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds and was the only offense Tech had in the paint.
- Terrell Bell is also playing really well. He hit double digits in points for the third time in four games with his 12 points, all on three-pointers. He had reached double digits just four times all season before this recent stretch.
- The Hokies were not good on the offensive glass, despite the fact miami was missing leading scorer and rebounder Dwayne Collins. Tech gathered just 21 percent of their misses (33 percent is average), while miami got 38 percent of their misses (not too bad for the Hokies).
- The Hokies actually made more threes than the canes (6-4), which was a huge surprise. If you had told me miami would go just 4/16 on threes and commit 10 more turnovers than the Hokies, I’d have assumed VT won by double digits. But the fact VT shot 24 threes is not a good thing. That 2-3 zone miami ran was pure genius.
- Tech was just 61 percent from the line, a rare off day there. Delaney had just three attempts, six below his average, and he only made one.
- miami scored on five of their final six possessions in the front court, largely thanks to Scott. VT simply couldn’t answer.
- It was a rough tournament all around for high seeds. Who’d have thought the 11 and 12 seeds, easily the two worst teams in the league (nc state and miami) would make the semifinals. On both Thursday and Friday three higher seeded teams lost. For the tournament, five teams seeded at least five seeds below the team they were playing won. Crazy. Just shows this was a down year for the league and all teams are pretty much equal.
A week ago the Hokies seemed like a lock but now they’ll be sweating bullets Sunday. Let’s look at VT’s resume:
- 10 ACC wins
- 23 total wins
- 4th place in the ACC regular season (ahead of three tourney “locks” – clemson, wake, and gt).
- RPI #59
- Wins over RPI #33 clemson, at #34 georgia tech, #36 wake forest, and on a neutral court against #61 seton hall (another bubble team)
- 8-7 against RPI Top 100 teams (VT just lost a top 100 win because georgia fell out)
- 3-4 against RPI Top 50 teams (including 3-1 against teams 26-50)
- 6-4 in their final 10 games
That is a pretty solid resume, but the weak out of conference schedule (and in conference for that matter – they played the bottom five teams twice and the top six teams just once) is constantly mentioned by the so-called bracketology experts. miami and nc state’s runs were actually a good thing (of course beating miami would have been better). But now both are firmly in the Top 100, so those two miami losses aren’t as bad. And it makes that weak in conference schedule a little more legit.
The Hokies also know they were left out two years ago despite winning 9 ACC games in the regular season and one in the ACC Tournament against a team that made the Big Dance, so they have to be worried. But the Selection Committee is human and I think the snub two years ago that led to Seth Greenberg’s famous “certifiably insane” line about the committee will actually work in VT’s favor. They know they snubbed VT and the Hokies won 10 conference games this year and 23 overall. They may feel pressure to put the Hokies in this time.
Now let’s look at the bubble. The bubble teams you hear about are VT, illinois, rhode island, minnesota, mississippi state, ole miss, seton hall, florida, dayton, and uab.
- VT (RPI #59)
- mississippi state (54) beat #23 vandy on Saturday in the SEC semis but lost to kentucky in the title game in an amazing battle. kentucky sent the game to overtime on a putback that left Cousins’s hand with .1 left on the clock. Then Wall hit a wild three to put the game away in OT. But as Hokie fans know from two years ago when VT lost to unc in the ACC semifinals in the final second, close does NOT count to the NCAA Selection Committee. This loss was huge for the Hokies. The bulldogs now have 23 overall wins and 11 SEC wins but it may not be enough.
- minnesota (60) absolutely crushed #5 purdue in the Big(11)Ten semifinals by 27 but then lost to ohio state by a similarly huge margin in the Big(11)Ten title game. They are firmly on the bubble right with the Hokies.
- Speaking of the Big(11)Ten, illinois (72) lost in 2 OTs to ohio state. Losses, no matter how close, haven’t seemed to impress the committee (like VT’s last-second loss to unc two years ago in the ACC semis). So this is good for VT. And their RPI is awful.
- florida (56) was 10-8 in the SEC but lost four of their final five, including in the quarters of the SEC Tourney to miss state. I think the bulldogs are solidly in over them and I think the Hokies would beat out the gators if it came down to the two of them.
- ole miss (62) lost their SEC Tourney opener but had won four in a row before that. They don’t have any real big wins and finished 9-8 in the SEC. Again, I like the Hokies over them.
- rhode island (40) got smoked by temple Saturday in the A-10 semis. And they are 4-6 in their last 10. I think the rams are done (good for the Hokies). But that RPI is pretty high compared to the other teams on this list.
- seton hall (61) – how could the committee take them over the Hokies, who beat them on a neutral court? I don’t think they could. I’ve seen one projection that has them in and one that has them out. Hokies shouldn’t have to worry about the hall, who lost in the Big East Second Round (not even the quarters).
- dayton (55) lost to xavier in the A-10 quarterfinals. Could the #7 seed in the A-10 (that went 9-9 in the league) really get in over the ACC’s #4? I don’t see it, though they did beat georgia tech, odu, and xavier.
- uab (45) has 23 wins, went 11-6 in C-USA, but lost their tourney opener to southern miss. They’ve lost three in a row. Again, I can’t see them getting in over the Hokies, but they did beat georgia, butler, cincinnati, and arkansas out of conference so they have some nice wins. Could be tough to keep them out.
- Also, unlv and san diego state played for the Mountain West title. Lunardi has both in (though san diego state just barely), as does Jerry Palm (again, sdsu is a higher number seed). So a unlv win would be good for Tech. Update: san diego state won, of course.Both are likely in.
- utah state (31 in the RPI) played new mexico state for their conference title Saturday. utah state seems to be in, new mexico state will not be without a win. Update: new mexico state won – again, not good for the Hokies.
- the ohio state win over minnesota Sunday would be good as would be a ky kentucky win over mississippi state.