Selection Sunday is hours away and since our update yesterday, there have already been two significant things that could impact Virginia Tech’s seeding.
1. Justin Robinson Returns
Buzz Williams and Justin Robinson announced that Robinson will return for the NCAA Tournament. The timing of the news is significant coming hours before the committee finalizes the 2019 bracket with debates over seeding likely happening as you read this.
Now some may wonder how an injury can make a difference and though an injury can’t be used in the determining of at-large bids, it can be used in a minor way in the process of determining where teams are seeded. Just about everyone in that room won’t be able to deny the fact that the Hokies are a better team and possibly top 10 caliber with Robinson on the floor, something that will have to factor in.
The fact that the committee can debate this could be what Virginia Tech needs to beat out teams like Wisconsin and Kansas State for a 4 seed instead of a 5. However, another team has made a very strong run at a top 4 seed.
2. Auburn Wins the SEC Championship
Auburn has finished the season strong capping it off with a dominant 20-point victory over Tennessee in today’s SEC Championship. The Tigers were the one team that could still add something significant to their resume and they did exactly that adding a major neutral site victory over a soon-to-be top 2 seed.
The win gives the Tigers a 5-7 Quadrant 1 record that is slightly better than the Hokies’ 4-8 one. Auburn also has the advantage with the 14th best strength of schedule including 31st best non-conference strength of schedule. Meanwhile, the Hokies continue to have the metrics advantage over the Tigers along with their 0 losses outside of Quadrant 1 compared to 2 for the Tigers.
Auburn did just about everything they could to jump in the conversation for a top 4 seed and have left a strong impression with their impressive play over the final few weeks of the season. Keep an eye on the Tigers as they’ve jumped into the debate for the final 4 seed spots alongside the Hokies, Wisconsin, and Kansas State. Having a flashy SEC Tournament title will also be hard for the committee to overlook relative to the other three teams.
Prediction: 5 Seed
Virginia Tech is right there on that cut line for a 4 seed with the high-end wins, 0 bad losses, and metrics to merit a 4 or even a 3 seed. However, the Hokies have a pair of significant flaws starting with what they’ve done in Quadrant 1 (with or without Justin Robinson).
Their 4 wins are on the lower end among those in the hunt for a 4 seed while their 4-8 record doesn’t stand up as well compared to the rest of the teams competing for a top 4 seed. Additionally, their non-conference strength of schedule coming in just inside the top 200 remains a major problem especially with what teams like Auburn and Wisconsin have with top 80 non-conference strength of schedules.
Now there’s no doubt that the Hokies would have a better record if Robinson stayed healthy, something that should be factored in. However, the committee shouldn’t be completely trying to redo the season when filling out their brackets based on who’s healthy and who isn’t.
Should and will Robinson’s return have some influence? Absolutely, but I don’t think it will have enough to make a change, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing either even if it may mean the Hokies end up on the 5 line this time around.
Now, Virginia Tech does have a strong case built on their 2 elite wins over Duke and Purdue (including 1 without Robinson), 0 bad losses, and the metrics of a team that should be considered as a potential 3 seed. However, while the committee is continuing to use some of the advanced metrics more and more along with add a more predictive metric in the NET to replace the results-based RPI, I don’t think the metrics have enough influence yet to cover up some of the weaker parts of VT’s resume.