It’s no longer fitting to call this a “bubble watch” as the Virginia Tech Hokies have locked themselves in the NCAA Tournament with three-straight wins including a home win over #25 Miami on Monday that has VT at 21-8 overall including 10-7 in the ACC ahead of their final regular season game Saturday at home against Wake Forest.
Saturday’s win over Boston College guaranteed that the Hokies would not have a loss to a team outside the RPI top 150 with a chance that all their losses are to teams inside the RPI top 100 if NC State finishes the season well.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Hokies on the 7 seed line in his latest projection while ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had the Hokies as a 10 seed before Virginia Tech beat Miami and we’d anticipate that the Hokies will climb 1 or 2 seeds in his next projections. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan still has Virginia Tech as a “team that should be in” in his latest bubble watch.
With that said, here’s a look at some resume numbers. (Numbers as of March 1st, RPI based on ESPN calculation)
- RPI: 34
- BPI: 49
- KenPom: 42
- Record vs. RPI top 50: 4-6
- Record vs. RPI top 100: 12-7
- Record vs. RPI top 150: 12-8
- Record vs. RPI outside top 150: 9-0
- ESPN SOR: 22
- SOS: 79
Other the strength of schedule metric, every number has improved for Virginia Tech with the Hokies rising one spot in the RPI and BPI since our last update on February 20th along with a four spot jump in the KenPom with a lot of that jump being caused by VT’s 16-point victory over Boston College.
Arguably the biggest improvement is Virginia Tech’s record against the RPI top 50 with the Hokies picking up one RPI top 50 win over Miami while also seeing their win at Michigan become a top 50 win with the Wolverines now up to 46th in the RPI. Virginia Tech also has quite a good record against the RPI top 100 at 12-7 while their undefeated record against teams outside the RPI top 150 is a big reason why the Hokie fans should have no nausea on Selection Sunday.
The strength of schedule metric has been the one lag on Virginia Tech’s resume with the Hokies having a non-conference strength of schedule that ranks right around 300, but the good news is that Virginia Tech has done what they’re supposed to and then some as reflected in VT being 22nd according to ESPN’s strength of record.
Virginia Tech has one more chance to add another RPI top 50 win this Saturday against Wake Forest who is 45th in the RPI rankings, and will be a test for the Hokies especially with Demon Deacons being right on the bubble as we enter the beginning of March. A win over the Demon Deacons would put the Hokies in position to potentially earn the fifth seed in the ACC Tournament, but that requires Duke going down at North Carolina Saturday.
When looking for a comparison for seeding based on similar resumes, we see that the Hokies’ resume has some similarities to last year’s Iowa team that was a 7 seed and fell in the second round to eventual national champion Villanova.
Iowa finished 28th in the RPI with the 32nd best strength of schedule, one stat that is a big advantage for the Hawkeyes, while finishing 21-10 overall and 12-6 in conference play. If the Hokies lose their final two games, they will have the same record as the Hawkeyes, but the Hokies definitely have the potential to end up around 23-9 entering the NCAA Tournament (that would mean beating Wake Forest and winning one ACC Tournament game).
Iowa had 5 RPI top 50 and 8 RPI top 100 wins entering last year’s NCAA Tournament which is similar to the Hokies who have 4 RPI top 50 wins currently but also have an impressive 12 RPI top 100 wins with only 7 RPI top 100 losses compared to 8 for Iowa though those loss numbers may end up being equal by the tournament.
What helped Iowa was their strength of schedule being in the top 35 with their non-conference strength of schedule ending in the top 125 which is much higher than VT’s current position around 300. Virginia Tech seems likely to end up with more wins than Iowa as well and while these resumes aren’t exactly the same, this seems like a good comparison at this point for projecting Virginia Tech with a 7 seed seeming like a likely seeding spot at this point.
Virginia Tech is headed for its first NCAA Tournament since 2007 as Virginia Tech is now playing simply to improve its seeding.