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|TSLMail #367- February 6, 2009||
VT Hokie News
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|Tech Sports News|
Time for the Hokies to Make a Move
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com
Every team in the ACC has played between seven and nine games. There is still a mad scramble of bubble teams that are sitting in the middle of the conference standings. A couple of those teams will likely elevate themselves above the others and head to the Big Dance, while the others will be knocked down to the NIT.
At this point, it looks like UNC, Duke, Clemson and Wake Forest are the definite NCAA tournament teams from the ACC. Boston College, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland will fight it out for another 1-3 spots in the NCAA tournament. As Seth Greenberg always says, it all comes down to who you play, where you play and when you play. Fortunately for the Hokies, their schedule over the next five games is much easier than that of the other teams fighting for a spot.
Boston College (18-6, 6-3, RPI #49)
Boston College is the surprise team of the conference so far. The Eagles have won at UNC and also hold Top 50 wins over UAB and Virginia Tech. They are in good shape right now, but their schedule over the next five games is brutal.
The Eagles have road games against Wake Forest and Miami, and home contests against Clemson, Duke and Florida State. That's five Top 50 teams in the next five games. It will be a tremendous challenge, but it will also be a tremendous opportunity. If the Eagles can manage to win two of those games, they'll be in pretty good shape.
Miami (15-7, 4-5, #45 RPI)
Miami was 3-2 in ACC play before dropping three games in a row. The 'Canes were reeling, and the next three games on their schedule were against Wake, Duke and UNC. They came back strong and smacked Wake earlier this week, but they've still got some work to do. Unfortunately for Miami, the upcoming stretch is very difficult.
They have road games against Duke, Florida State and Virginia, while they host North Carolina and Boston College. Miami needs five more wins to start feeling good about their NCAA tournament chances, but are there five wins left on their schedule?
Maryland (14-8, 3-5, #79 RPI)
Maryland probably shouldn't even be on this list, and at this time next week they might not be in the discussion. However, we'll talk about them anyway. The Terps are capable of beating good teams. After all, they blew out Michigan State earlier this year.
However, they dug themselves in a hole when ACC play started, and they've got a tough schedule coming up. Maryland hosts Virginia Tech, UNC and Duke, while they travel to Georgia Tech and Clemson. That's tough, but it's also a good opportunity to get themselves back in the picture.
Florida State (17-5, 4-3, #29 RPI)
Florida State is in good shape, with a good overall record, a winning ACC record and a high RPI. Four more wins would probably get the 'Noles in the Big Dance. However, FSU's next five games are very tough.
They have three road games at Clemson, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, while they host Miami and Virginia.
Virginia Tech (14-7, 4-3, #40 RPI)
Virginia Tech has a good ACC record and a solid RPI, but they lack overall wins. It would likely take at least a 9-7 record in ACC play to get them in the Big Dance, whereas a team like FSU might be able to get in with an 8-8 mark. Good thing the Hokies have by far the easiest schedule coming up of all these bubble teams.
The Hokies host NC State, Georgia Tech and Florida State, while they travel to Maryland and Virginia. Maryland, NC State, Georgia Tech and Virginia are the bottom four teams in the ACC in the RPI, and Tech gets to play all four of them in the next five games. There is a tremendous opportunity to pull ahead of these other bubble teams and put themselves in good position for the stretch run.
In fact, Tech better win as many games as possible over the next five games, because their final four games are very tough. The Hokies have road games at Clemson and FSU, and they host Duke and Carolina. Tech could easily go 0-4 in that stretch.
The goal should be to go 4-1 over the next five games, and then try to pick up 1-2 wins over the last four games. That would put Tech at either 9-7 or 10-6 heading into the ACC tournament. 10-6 would almost definitely be good enough for the NCAA tournament, and 9-7 might be as well.
At this point, I'd say the ACC is likely to get six teams into the NCAA tournament. That means the five teams above will be fighting it out for two spots. I think it's fair to say that Maryland's chances are pretty bad right now, and Miami's is below average as well. If that holds up, that means Boston College, Florida State and Virginia Tech will be fighting it out for two spots.
The Hokies can put themselves in a good position if they can go 4-1, or 5-0, over the next five games. Anything less and they'll probably be on the outside looking in when they head into those four difficult games to close the season.
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