2018 Virginia Tech Basketball NCAA Tournament Watch March 1st Edition

By: Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP | Mar 01, 2018
This time last week, Virginia Tech was in fairly safe shape to make the NCAA Tournament but still had some work to do. Over the past 8 days, the Hokies have stepped their game up to guarantee that they will be making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for only the third time in school history. The Hokies picked up a pair of wins over top 10 RPI teams in Duke and Clemson, becoming the only school in America to have 4 wins over teams in the top 10 of the RPI. With those wins, VT has 5 quadrant 1 victories now with the chance for that number to grow whether that's against Miami or if Washington climbs up a spot or 2 in the RPI to push that win back into the quadrant 1 category. While the loss to Louisville was disappointing, that loss has disappeared in the quadrant 2 category and didn't really do any major damage to VT's NCAA Tournament seeding. As March begins, Virginia Tech is simply playing for seeding at this point with their floor appearing to be around the 9 seed spot where they were last year. With that said, here's a look at the data behind the Hokies' current resume. Only the Hokies' BPI and KenPom have gone down in the past 8 days since our last update with VT only having a one-spot drop in both the KenPom and BPI rankings. VT is now in the top 35 of all major ratings except for the RPI where they have made a big jump over the past week and a half from 54th to 47th. As the NCAA Tournament committee begins to focus more on some of the advanced metrics, it should help the Hokies' seeding especially compared to last season where many of these metrics had VT ranked lower like KenPom which currently has VT ranked 32nd yet had the Hokies ranked 50th on Selection Sunday last year. As we brought up in our recent Bracketology update, the Hokies are trending upward in the bracket with the average projection having them as an 8 seed. Since our Bracketology summary update, Joe Lunardi has also bumped VT up another seed line from a 9 seed to an 8 seed with the general consensus currently being around that 8 seed line. VT's non-conference strength of schedule has even improved slightly, but that is the one part of their resume that likely limits their seeding ceiling to a 6 or 7 seed. That's what you get when you schedule six teams who end up outside of the top 280 of the RPI and should be a message that VT needs to improve the depth of their non-conference schedule one way or another. One team that helps show this non-conference strength of schedule is Miami. Like the Hokies, the Hurricanes have 5 quadrant 1 victories and only 1 loss in a game that is outside of the top 2 quadrants. However, the big difference comes in the non-conference strength of schedule where Miami is ranked 144th compared to VT at 323rd. The Hurricanes do have a better non-conference win against a Middle Tennessee State team that should make the Big Dance even if they don't win the Conference USA Tournament, but their non-conference schedule doesn't necessarily have the same splash as the Hokies does in terms of big games. However, the big difference is that Miami only faced one team outside the RPI top 235 while VT faced 6 outside the RPI top 280. Some of that can be chance, but some of that comes down to scheduling quality games against strong mid-major conferences and not the low-major conferences that produced games against schools like Maryland-Eastern Shore and Presbyterian while also trying to get a better pick of games from the conference tournament affiliations instead of games against Detroit Mercy and Houston Baptist. VT should be looking at playing schools like Old Dominion, William & Mary, and James Madison; in-state schools in better conferences rather than the UMES and Houston Baptist level schools. While VT has some bad luck with the struggles of Iowa and Ole Miss, VT should have done better avoiding the numerous number of below-average low major teams that are not only hurting VT's non-conference strength of schedule, but also hurting their NCAA Tournament seeding. After a big week, Virginia Tech has locked up their NCAA Tournament bid and are in an almost identical position to last season in terms of their record. However, VT has some major improvements for their resume this season including 5 quadarant 1 victories, 4 wins over teams in the top 10 of the RPI, and improved rankings in the advanced metrics like KenPom.

Photo Credit: Harley Taylor

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