How many ACC teams get March Madness invites?
Remember how Syracuse and Pitt had some work to do to finalize their invites to the Big Dance? So much for that: it’s not a good idea to go 0-2 in the final week of the regular season when you’re anywhere near the bubble.
Meanwhile, what about Virginia Tech? Whereas the Orange and Panthers are playing in the 8-9 game at the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, Virginia Tech is the six seed, and the Hokies enter the postseason with 18 wins, 10 in the ACC, with wins in the past week over Pitt and Miami.
Locks: UVA, UNC, Miami, Duke, Notre Dame
If the Cavs (24-6, 13-5 ACC, RPI 2) or Tar Heels (25-6, 14-4 ACC, RPI 8) wins the ACC Tournament, they’re the one seed in the South. Either could be a one seed somewhere as long as they avoid the early upset in Washington.
Miami (24-6, 13-5 ACC, RPI 7) could insert itself into that discussion if it comes away with the big trophy, though it’s curious how little talk the ‘Canes are getting in that respect. Miami has a better resume than Carolina (4-2 vs. the RPI Top 25, 9-2 vs. the RPI Top 50, to Carolina’s 3-4 record vs. the Top 25 and 4-5 mark against the Top 50), but they don’t wear baby blue, so that can be a problem.
Duke (22-9, 11-7 ACC, RPI 18) is the five seed in D.C., and has to play on Wednesday, setting up a potential blockbuster quarterfinal matchup with Notre Dame (20-10, 11-7 ACC, RPI 35). Duke is probably a four or five in the NCAA Tournament; Notre Dame is likely a seven.
Serious work to do: Pitt, Syracuse
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still has these two in the field, and safely outside his last four in list. I’m not so bullish on that.
Pitt (20-10, 9-9 ACC, RPI 49) dropped back-to-back road games at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech in the final week of the regular season, and the Panthers are now 5-7 in their last 12.
Syracuse (19-12, 9-9 ACC, RPI 57) also dropped its last two, at UNC and at Florida State. ‘Cuse is 7-5 in its last 12.
I’m looking at their second round game on Wednesday as an elimination game, with the proviso that the winner still isn’t guaranteed an NCAA bid.
But the loser, to me, is almost assuredly not getting a bid.
Outside looking in: Virginia Tech, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State
It’s fun to think that Virginia Tech (18-13, 10-8 ACC, RPI 86) has been playing its way into an NCAA bid, but even a 2-0 record in the final week of the regular season isn’t nearly enough right now.
Tech is 6-6 in its last 12, and that 86 RPI is nowhere near where it needs to be for the Hokies to get an at-large bid.
Clemson (17-13, 10-8 ACC, 113 RPI) has a similar issue, more pronounced. There’s just no chance that a team outside of the RPI Top 100 is going to get any kind of consideration, even with the Tigers’ slew of marquee wins (Duke, Louisville, Miami).
More intriguing are the cases of Florida State (18-12, 8-10 ACC, RPI 69) and Georgia Tech (18-13, 8-10, RPI 70). Yes, both were sub-.500 in the conference, and FSU, for chrissake, is playing on Tuesday in the opening round. Assume the ‘Noles get past Boston College and then upset Virginia Tech. That gives them 20 wins. One more upset, of Miami in the quarters on Thursday, and you’ve got 21, and an RPI boost likely into the high 50s.
Probably still not enough to get them over the hump, but …
Georgia Tech gets Clemson on Wednesday, and the winner gets Virginia Thursday night. The Yellow Jackets beat UVA in January, so give them an upset into the Friday semifinals, and they’re at 20 wins, with two wins over a team on the one/two seed line.
Stranger things have happened.
– Column by Chris Graham