On Saturday evening after North Carolina State watched former All-Met Kendall Marshall’s game-winning basket lift North Carolina to a 69-67 victory over the Wolfpack in the ACC tournament semifinals, Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg took to his Twitter account.
The Hokies’ season had ended a day earlier against Duke, and with an under-.500 record, there was no postseason campaigning for Greenberg to do this year. So instead, he expressed empathy for Coach Mark Gottfried’s team, tweeting that he had “been where NCSU has been with 2 last second ACC Tourney losses to UNC. Hope their fate is different.”
Flash forward to Selection Sunday when the Wolfpack were the final team announced in the 68-team field for this year’s NCAA tournament – although as a No. 11 seed, they were not one of the last four at-large teams. A year after the ACC got just four bids to the tournament, North Carolina State gave the conference a fifth.
But considering the Hokies presumably would have been the fifth ACC team a year ago, it seems appropriate to compare their resume from 2011 to North Carolina State’s in 2012, as well as the other at-large teams that barely made the field.
Now before you read on, it’s important to note that every year the bubble is different and many believe this year’s bubble was softer than years past. But compared with last season, when the average RPI of the last four at-large teams was 51, the last four teams in the field this year (Iona, BYU, California and South Florida) had an average RPI of 43.
So on the surface at least, this year’s at-large field appears comparable to last season. And yet, comparing Virginia Tech’s 2011 resume to some of the teams that are included in this year’s field conjures up new questions on a process that can be mind-boggling, no matter how much more transparent the NCAA tournament selection committee is trying to become.
Keep in mind that the reason that committee chairman Gene Smith said the Hokies weren’t included in last year’s field of 68 because even though they upgraded their nonconference schedule, they didn’t beat enough quality opponents.
Virginia Tech 2011 (21-11)
Overall strength of schedule: 77
Nonconference SOS: 157.
2-5 vs. RPI top 50
8-8 vs. RPI top 100
Bad losses: at Virginia (141), Virginia (141), at Georgia Tech (168)
Best wins: Duke (4), Penn State (39), Florida State (55)
North Carolina State 2012 (22-12)
Overall strength of schedule: 26
Nonconference SOS: 21
1-8 vs. RPI top 50
6-10 vs. RPI top 100
Bad losses: at Clemson (151), Georgia Tech (197)
Best wins: Texas (50), Virginia (53), Miami (60)
So this year’s Wolfpack played a significantly tougher schedule overall, but had the exact same amount of games against the RPI top 100. Last season’s Hokies had two more wins against the top 100, and a marquee victory over Duke. But Virginia Tech did have an additional bad loss.
So what about the Hokies’ resume from a year ago compared with the last four teams in the field this year? Have a look:
Overall strength of schedule: 144
Nonconference SOS: 43
0-2 vs. RPI top 50
5-3 vs. RPI top 100
Bad losses: Manhattan (149), at Siena (217), at Hofstra (263)
Best wins: Nevada (67), St. Joseph’s (69), Loyola (78)
Overall strength of schedule: 101
Nonconference SOS: 75
1-6 vs. RPI top 50
5-6 vs. RPI top 100
Bad losses: Loyola Marymount (117), Utah State (143)
Best wins: Gonzaga (25), Oregon (63), Nevada (67)
Overall strength of schedule: 85
Nonconference SOS: 70
0-3 vs. RPI top 50
8-7 vs. RPI top 100
Bad losses: at Oregon State (132), at Washington State (184)
Best wins: Colorado (62), at Oregon (63)
South Florida (19-13)
Overall strength of schedule: 27
Non-conference SOS: 52
2-9 vs. RPI top 50
6-10 vs. RPI top 100
Bad losses: at Auburn (145), Penn State (161)
Best wins: at Louisville (14), Cincinnati (42), Seton Hall (68)
Draw your own conclusions from all these comparisons, but I wonder how Hokies fans and Greenberg feel about the bubble teams that made the cut this year considering Virginia Tech got snubbed last season. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas surmised a guess late Sunday night when he tweeted his thoughts on what took place during this year’s Selection Sunday.
“Seth Greenberg must be mad. VT beats Duke, Miss State, Okie State and Florida State twice last year = NIT. Iona, NC State NCAA this year?”