2018 Virginia Tech Basketball Bubble Watch February 21st Edition

2018 Virginia Tech Basketball Bubble Watch February 21st Edition

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Mar 01, 2018

Virginia Tech had an up-and-down week last week with a blowout loss at Duke followed by a blowout victory at Georgia Tech. Overall, the Hokies finished 2-1 on their three-game road stand, something that was not expected at the start and was definitely not expected before the season when this stretch was expected to be the toughest three-game stretch of the season. While VT didn't pick up a big win this past week, they did avoid a bad loss against Georgia Tech. Their performance against Duke did hurt the performance-based metrics, but VT's more dominant victory over Georgia Tech helped brings those metrics back up and even improve those rankings some. With that said, here's how Virginia Tech's resume looks. While the non-conference strength of schedule continues to be atrocious, Virginia Tech's resume continues to improve as a whole. VT made a big jump in the KenPom rankings from 38th to 31st along with a five-spot jump in the RPI and four-spot jump in strength of record. The RPI has been the one ranking where VT has lagged behind, but that is slowly changing with the UVA win providing the first major boost to that ranking. VT did see some rankings go downward with a six-spot drop in the Sagarin rankings plus a one-spot drop in BPI. Overall, Virginia Tech is continue to sit around the 9 to 10 seed range. VT is benefiting a lot from having four quadrant 1 victories with wins over Notre Dame and Washington being on the edge but just inside for the time being. With VT avoiding a surprise loss at Georgia Tech, the Hokies shouldn't have any more losses outside the top two quadrants. While some wondered if VT's loss to Saint Louis could be costly, VT only having one bad loss is beneficial especially with bubble teams like NC State, Providence, Houston, UCLA, St. Bonaventure, and Washington all having at least two losses against teams outside the top 2 quadrants. Looking ahead, Virginia Tech has the opportunities to build a strong resume with three of their final four games being chances to pick up quadrant 1 victories. If the Hokies can win one of those games, they should be in fairly good shape to make the NCAA Tournament even if they don't beat Louisville as well. This week's games give the Hokies a chance to basically lock up their NCAA Tournament bid if they can beat both Clemson and Louisville. With a lot of teams in flux right now, a strong close to the season could give the Hokies a great chance at not only securing their bid, but to also improve on last year's 9 seed. However, the Hokies will be hurt by their atrocious non-conference schedule that is the main reason why their spot in the NCAA Tournament isn't a guarantee just yet. One of the clearest ways that shows how VT's non-conference strength of schedule is holding them back is shown when looking at Texas A&M. The Aggies are projected around the 8 or 9 seed line despite the fact that they are 16-11 overall and 6-9 in SEC play. The main reasons why the Aggies are projected in the same area of the bracket as the Hokies; their non-conference and overall strength of schedule. A&M has played the sixth toughest strength of schedule and 18th toughest non-conference strength of schedule. In addition to that, A&M's tougher schedule gave them more opportunities to pick up high-level wins with 7 quadrant 1 wins compared to the Hokies' 4. Those differences show how VT is being hurt by their poor non-conference strength of schedule. For now, Virginia Tech continues to be safely in the NCAA Tournament field, but they still has some work to do to make sure they have no reason for concern on Selection Sunday.

Photo Credit: Harley Taylor

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