Where Do ACC Teams Fit On The Bubble?

Can Akil Mitchell and the Virginia Cavaliers make the NCAA Tournament?
Can Akil Mitchell and the Virginia Cavaliers make the NCAA Tournament?

With the regular season complete, only conference tournaments separate us from Selection Sunday.  Virginia is firmly planted on the bubble after rallying for an overtime win against Maryland on Sunday, while the Terrapins will have to impress in Greensboro to have a chance to join the field of 68.  This is a look at the teams they will be compared with for at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament, but first let’s examine their own resumes.

21-10, 11-7 ACC
RPI: 66
Strength of schedule: 122
Good wins: at Wisconsin, vs. North Carolina, vs. NC State, vs. Duke
Bad losses: at George Mason, Delaware, Old Dominion, at Wake Forest, at Clemson, at Georgia Tech, at Boston College

Virginia’s resume is just bizarre. Despite a fairly weak schedule, they loaded up on resume-boosting wins in conference play and notched a huge win at Wisconsin.  However, they also managed to pick up loss after loss after loss against teams they should have beaten.  Some will say, “If they’re good enough to beat Wisconsin/UNC/Duke/NC State, they should be in!” and be absolutely correct. Others will say “If they can’t beat Old Dominion, they don’t deserve an NCAA berth,” and, you know, they’d be right, too.

20-11, 8-10 ACC
RPI: 86
Strength of schedule: 104
Good wins: vs. NC State, vs. Duke
Bad losses: at Boston College, at Georgia Tech

I don’t think the Terrapins will be dancing, but I’ll humor them with an appearance in this.  They picked up some nice wins, but they did little outside of that to make a case, and the losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech certainly didn’t help. They won’t pass anybody’s eye test, either, thanks to their tendency to turn the ball over.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the teams most widely considered to be “on the bubble” by bracketologists.

Boise State
19-9, 9-7 Mountain West
RPI: 37
Strength of schedule: 51
Good wins: at Creighton, vs. UNLV, Colorado State, San Diego State
Bad losses: at Utah, at Nevada

Last year, the Mountain West was a four-bid conference, and Boise State finished tied for fourth in the league.  With that said, the MWC is also the nation’s strongest conference in RPI.  The rising tide of New Mexico’s #2 RPI has lifted all the ships of the conference.  Now it will be up to the Selection Committee to decide how good this conference really is.  If they believe in the computers, Boise State could take a spot away from the power conference at-large teams.

21-10, 12-6 SEC
RPI: 50
Strength of schedule: 61
Good wins: at Notre Dame, vs. Florida
Bad loss: at Georgia

Kentucky’s win against Florida over the weekend was a huge boost to their tournament prospects. It’s a down year in the SEC, but the groupthink is that win should be enough to lock the Wildcats into the field of 68, since it proves they can compete sans Nerlens Noel.

La Salle
21-8, 11-5 Atlantic 10
RPI: 41
Strength of schedule: 79
Good wins: at Virginia Commonwealth, vs. Butler
Bad losses: vs. Central Connecticut

The Explorers have a better RPI than Kentucky and Tennessee.  With that said, how much respect they are paid as a member of the Atlantic 10 will be up for debate. The Atlantic 10 put four teams in the tournament in 2012, and La Salle will probably need an expansion from that number to make the field.

Ole Miss
23-8, 12-6 SEC
RPI: 56
Strength of schedule: 130
Good win: vs. Missouri
Bad losses: at South Carolina, at Mississippi State

Ole Miss, like Maryland, sports a fairly vanilla resume.  Yes, they don’t have many bad losses, but they only have one win against an RPI top-50 team, and that was at home against Missouri.

19-11, 11-7 SEC
RPI: 55
Strength of schedule: 42
Good wins: vs. Wichita State, vs. Kentucky, vs. Florida, vs. Missouri
Bad loss: vs. Georgia, at Georgia

Another SEC team that boosted its resume with a top-50 RPI win over the weekend. Tennessee has plenty of good wins, but no good wins on the road. They also have some explaining to do regarding getting swept by the Georgia Bulldogs, a team with a losing record.

Conclusion: Because of the similarity of some of the resumes involved, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a “theme” to which teams make it in (barring developments during conference tournaments).  If teams are rewarded for wins against tougher opponents,  Virginia and Tennessee’s chances of making the field increase.  If the selection committee focuses instead on avoiding bad losses, those teams will likely suffer.

The handling of Boise State will also set the tone for the proceedings. If you allow the Broncos to participate, what is the merit for leaving out La Salle? And which teams from the power conferences are you sending to the NIT to make room for them?

1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Virginia’s victory over Tennessee might have been a helpful data point for readers of this article, particularly with respect to the paragraph discussing Tennessee’s prospects vs. another supposed “bubble team” listed here (though, I think Virginia is firmly in the field, even if they hadn’t swept Maryland).

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