Virginia Tech Basketball Bubble Watch (February 20th Edition)

Zach LeDay and the Hokies continue to be in great shape to make the 2017 NCAA Tournament. [Credit: Harley Taylor]
Selection Sunday is less than three weeks away as teams across the country look to put the finishing touches on their resume in hopes of securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament if they are unable to win their conference tournament.

This past week, the Virginia Tech Hokies boosted their resume with a quality road win at Pittsburgh one day after finding out that Chris Clarke would be done for the season. Then, the Hokies nearly added what would have been their best win of the season in a 4-point loss at Louisville that our own Henry Skutt said could be called “a quality loss“.

The win over Pittsburgh is definitely a quality road win for the Hokies while the close loss at Louisville should help Virginia Tech in regards to the “eye test” while another week of ACC games once again boosts their strength of schedule after having a weak non-conference schedule.

Despite getting a win at Pittsburgh and having their only loss come by 4 at a top 10 team, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Hokies down to the 10 seed line while CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm still has the Hokies on the 8 seed line as there is some clear disagreement here as to how much the Hokies are on the bubble between Lunardi and others including Palm and ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan whose most recent “Bubble Watch” had the Hokies as a “team that should be in.”

While the loss of Chris Clarke could have hurt the Hokies’ standing some with Lunardi, that could be completely flipped upside down as long as the Hokies continue to prove that the loss of Clarke may not have much an impact on them as they showed this past week with the win at Pittsburgh and a 4-point loss at Louisville.

Here’s our weekly look at some of the most important numbers in regards to the Hokies resume. (Numbers as of February 20th)

  • RPI: 35
  • BPI: 50
  • KenPom: 46
  • Record vs. RPI top 50: 2-6
  • Record vs. RPI top 100: 10-7
  • Record vs. RPI top 150: 10-8
  • Record vs. RPI outside top 150: 8-0
  • ESPN SOR: 25
  • SOS: 67

There haven’t been a lot of changes in the numbers but most of the changes have been for the better though some numbers did get worse over the past 7 days.

Since our previous bubble watch, the Hokies have seen their RPI jump from 37th to 35th and their KenPom ranking jump from 51st to 46th, but their BPI ranking dropped a couple spots this past week from 48th to 50th. However, the Hokies are ahead of most other bubble teams in RPI while there KenPom and BPI are rankings are quite good for a team that is on the bubble.

Virginia Tech came close to pulling a huge upset win at Louisville that would have given them another win over a top 20 RPI team but despite that, the Hokies still have those 2 signature wins over Duke and Virginia while also having a quality 10-7 record against the RPI top 100 and only 1 loss to a team outside the RPI top 100 (at NC State).

One big number that continues to get better (and should continue to improve in the coming weeks) is the Hokies’ strength of schedule which is up to 67th in the nation after being 72nd last week. Virginia Tech’s strength of record also increased one spot and being ranked 25th in this should be something that the committee takes note of as the Hokies have done quite well given the challenges they have faced this season.

Virginia Tech faces their last game against a team outside the RPI top 100 this week at Boston College and while the Eagles have been pesky and won a couple of ACC games, a loss to the Eagles would push the Hokies squarely onto the bubble as a loss that would almost be as bad as Virginia Tech’s loss to Alabama State last year. While the Hokies are in good enough shape to likely stay in the field even if they lose to BC, a loss would destroy almost all of their immense amount of breathing room that they currently have.

Before their trip to Boston College this weekend, the Hokies host a Clemson team that knows they need to start winning some ACC games here as they still lurk on the fringe of the bubble despite a 4-10 ACC record. Virginia Tech has a chance at sweeping the Tigers here and a win over Clemson would just improve their record against the RPI top 100 even more and likely help them begin to make a late push to try to climb as high as the 6 or 7 seed line if they can win their final 4 regular season games.

The Hokies continue to be in a great position to make their first NCAA Tournament in a decade, but have to avoid an upset when they travel to Conte Forum to face Boston College this Saturday.

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