December 1, 2010
Last year on Selection Sunday, the biggest head scratcher was how could a team that is 23-8, 10-6 in the ACC fail to make the NCAA tournament? That’s what Seth Greenberg and his Virginia Tech Hokies wondered after they were left on the outside looking in as the field was announced. A closer examination of the Hokies resume revealed the culprit: non-conference scheduling or the lack there of. In 2010 Virginia Tech amped up their non-conference schedule, the question is will it be enough to make the big dance this year
Last season Virginia Tech finished the non-conference slate with a 13-1 record, the problem is their strength of schedule was at 307, in other words they beat so many cupcakes that Willy Wonka had Blacksburg,VA on speed dial. Of their 14 games, 12 of them had RPI rankings of 71 or lower. Only Seton Hall (70) an overtime win and Temple (11) a loss were within the top 100 of the RPI at year’s end. Sure enough come March the message from the selection committee was quite clear: Schedule some meat and potatoes or risk the consequences. No longer will Longwood, North Carolina Central, Brown, VMI, UNC-Greensboro and the like suffice if you’re a tournament hopeful from a power conference
Greenberg and his staff took heed of the committee’s warnings and scheduled up for 2010-11 adding the likes of Kansas State, UNLV, Purdue and Mississippi State to their non-conference slate, in the hopes of impressing the committee in March. The eye test shows that the Hokies resume for 2011 will have a lot less fluff. All that is left for Virginia Tech to do is win the games they’ve scheduled.
With Purdue, Penn State and Mississippi State (and an eligible Renardo Sidney) still on the docket for the Hokies there’s a chance stars Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen could have four losses, having already fallen to Kansas State and UNLV, before facing the crux of their ACC Schedule. With the ACC looking like it could be Duke and six or so teams you could throw a blanket over; Virginia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Maryland, Florida State and Miami, the Hokies better hope for another 10-6 finish in conference or they could be sitting nervously in a deja vu moment on Selection Sunday. They certainly have the squad to achieve their goal but it is by no means a given. They’ve done the scheduling, now they have to do the winning.