Tech’s bubble bursts again: Mason, VCU get at-large bids, UR, ODU, Hampton earn automatics
The Hokies, with a 21-11 record, 11 wins in the ACC, two wins over NCAA Tourney participant Florida State, a win over #1 West Region seed Duke two weeks ago, were once again left out of the NCAA field.
George Mason (26-6) and VCU (23-11) from the CAA both got at-large bids, joining tournament champion Old Dominion (27-6), marking the first time the Colonial got two at-large bids into the tournament field.
Richmond (27-7), which won the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid, and Hampton (24-8), champs of the MEAC, also earned bids.
Hampton, the #16 seed in the West, will take on Duke (30-4) in its NCAA opener. Richmond, the #12 seed in the Southwest, takes on #5 seed Vanderbilt (23-10).
ODU, the #9 seed in the Southeast, opens with #8 Butler (22-9). VCU plays Southern Cal (19-14) in a play-in game for the #11 seed in the Southwest Region. Mason, the #8 seed in the East, takes on #9 seed Villanova (21-11).
The ACC landed four teams in the NCAA field – Duke, Florida State (#10 seed in the Southwest), North Carolina (#2 seed in the East) and Clemson (which faces Alabama-Birmingham in a play-in game for the #12 seed in the East).
Virginia Tech seemed to have played its way into the field as a fifth ACC participant with its 64-60 win over then-#1 Duke on Feb. 26 and then posting two wins in this week’s ACC Tournament, including a 52-51 win on Friday over Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals.
The win gave Tech a season sweep of Florida State. Tech also beat another bubble team that was given an NCAA bid, Penn State (19-14, the #10 seed in the West Region).
Losses in the final week of the regular season to Boston College and Clemson and a pair of losses to 16-15 Virginia were key blemishes on the Hokies’ resume, as was a relatively weak strength of schedule (74th among the 345 teams in Division I).