Take a quick look at The Bracket Matrix. Of the 92 on-line bracketologists they track, Virginia appears in 27 of the brackets. That's 29%. Which tells me, we have a shot if Selection Sunday were today. But since there are more games to play, we have a chance to play our way to firmer footing... or off the bubble completely and into the NIT.
On Friday at approximately 2:30, we'll be playing the winner of NC State/Virginia Tech. If it's the Wolfpack, it gives us a golden opportunity to notch another RPI top-50 win, on a neutral court, and I think a win puts us into the NCAA Tournament (regardless of what happens Saturday, unless we lose to BC or GT if either of them can slip past Miami.)
The homer in me says that this ACCT sets up extremely favorably for the Hoos, if we can carry our defense from the second half of the Maryland game to Greensboro, and can rediscover our shooting touch -- which might just be contingent on a little rest for some weary legs. Anyway, NC State is extremely beatable, and I relish, RELISH another crack at Miami (who I will be sorry to see not receive a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, as I was super excited to see the first-ever 16-seed upset over a 1-seed).
Anyway, we need to leave Greensboro with at least a win over State or Miami (or Duke or UNC if things go really wacky and we play VT and then BC/GT to get to the championship game).
All of that being said, here are the pros and cons of our current résumé:
- 21-10 overall record. 20 wins is no longer the gold standard, but this is still a solid record for a power conference team.
- 11-7 in the ACC. Unless Virginia Tech did it in one of their spectacular tournament snubs, I can't really remember an ACC team that finished four games above .500 missing the NCAAT. The committee "doesn't consider that," but still.
- Joe Harris. He gained some national acclaim in the win over Duke, a little star power, a little marketability. The committee says all they care about are blind résumés and fair bracketing, but I call horseshit on that. Don't be naive. It behooves them to create good, compelling television, and a rising star like Joe can help us make the cut.
- 4-2 against the RPI top 50. No other bubble team can boast the wins we have. We have the prettiest pelts.
- 8-3 against the RPI top 100. This is a number of a 4-, 5-, or 6-seed, not a 12-seed play-in team.
- Eyeball test. Yes, we've looked bad at times. But the times when the eyeballs were really on us - in Madison, against NC State, etc. - we played well. Nobody saw us choke on the ODU chicken bone, but everyone saw us beat Duke.
- Some of our bad losses - Wake, Clemson, GT, BC - are not as bad as the RPI indicates. I think the committee knows that all four of those teams have flashed some impressive play at times, especially at home. Wake beat Xavier, NC State, and Miami. Clemson played Gonzaga and Arizona tough, and nearly beat Miami. Georgia Tech took down Miami. Boston College nearly sprung upsets over NC State, Miami, and Duke.
- Seven bad losses, including four REALLY bad losses and one PUTRID loss. I could kill Old Dominion right now. If we had won that game, I think we're talking about a 9- or 10-seed right now, instead of sweating the bubble.
- 6-4 in our last 10 games, which doesn't look so bad until you consider the fact that we're 4-4 in our last 8. .500 ball down the stretch doesn't inspire the committee.
- Trouble away from home. We're 18-1 at home, and just 3-9 away from the JPJ. We won't play our NCAAT games in the JPJ. (The good news is that all of our fellow bubble teams similarly suck away from home.)
- Style of play. If I list Joe Harris and his rising star as a pro, I have to list our ugly-to-the-untrained-eye Bennettball system as a con. Games played in the low 50s are not attractive on TV.
- Last year's nosedive against Florida. They aren't supposed to consider previous seasons, but they do. And we looked really bad in last year's first round game.
Add it all up, and I'm still pretty bullish on our chances. Like I said, nobody else on the bubble can boast the wins we can. And ultimately, I think that - plus a decent showing in Greensboro - will put us into the Dance.