What does Virginia need to do to secure NCAA invite?

uva-logo-new2The short answer: win, early and often. Virginia (21-10, 11-7 ACC) is still listed as one of the last four teams in the NCAA Tournament field by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, but that is far from being the consensus feeling from those in the know.

The knock on the Cavs – early-season losses at George Mason, at home against Delaware, and at a neutral site in December against Old Dominion. The 0-3 record against lesser lites from a down Colonial Athletic Association put UVa. into a hole as far as its RPI rating that it has struggled to recover from.

Even with a fourth-place finish in the ACC, and a 2-2 record against the top three teams in the league, Miami, Duke and North Carolina, Virginia still sits just 69th in the latest, up-to-the-minute rendering of the RPI.

The ESPN BPI (Basketball Power Index), which takes into account factors including injuries to key players and point differential that the RPI misses, has the ‘Hoos looking much better in terms of their resume, at 38th. And stats guru Ken Pomeroy’s power rankings have Virginia looking even better, at 20th.

The nice numbers from KenPom and BPI aside, a loss on Friday in the ACC quarterfinals will almost certainly knock Virginia out of the tourney field; at best, it would make for a long weekend of uncertainty. A win, resulting in the program’s first appearance in the ACC semis since 1995, would put the Cavs in a better position come Selection Sunday, but another W on Saturday would be well advised in terms of sewing things up.

The guarantee comes with a weekend sweep, as unlikely as that might be for a program that has just one ACC Tournament championship to show for its first 59 tries.

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