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   Welcome to TSLMail #204 - Friday, December 9, 2005    
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   Tech Sports News

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RPI = Really Pathetic Index 
by Chris Coleman,

Virginia Tech is a football school, so naturally talk on internet message boards centers around the BCS standings for the majority of the fall. The 2005 season saw the Hokies as high as third behind USC and Texas, and fans worried that Tech would get left out of the Rose Bowl because of a lower BCS rating. The Hokies went on to drop games to Miami and Florida State, so we didnít get to see that scenario play out. The BCS worked despite itself.

In college basketball, the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee as a barometer to compare teams that are on the bubble for the tournament. The RPI takes under consideration a teamís record, their opponentsí record, and their opponentsí opponentsí record.

The basic formula of the RPI is 25% team winning percentage, 50% opponentsí average winning percentage, and 25% opponentsí opponentsí average winning percentage. Last season, team winning percentage was altered based on home and away games. A team was given 1.4 wins for a victory on the road, and 0.6 wins for a victory at home. Likewise, a loss on the road is worth only 0.6 losses, but a loss at home is worth 1.4.

Margin of victory is not factored into the RPI. A Tech victory by one point over North Carolina A&T would have netted the same result as the 28 point win. Likewise, if the Hokies had been crushed by Duke on the road, it would not have damaged them any further in the RPI.

Per the formula, with six home victories on the season, Virginia Tech has only 3.6 wins in the eyes of the RPI. With one home loss and two road losses, Virginia Tech has 2.6 losses on the season. This is a simple situation of one lucky half court shot costing the Hokies a lot of RPI points. If that shot by Dukeís Sean Dockery had not gone in, you would add 1.4 to Techís win total, taking them to 5 total wins, and take off 0.6 from their losses, giving them just two losses. Thatís a huge difference, and could potentially make a difference in March.

As could the home loss to Bowling Green, which came when Techís A.D. Vassallo tipped a missed shot into Bowling Greenís basket as time expired. Add 0.6 to Techís win total, and subtract 1.4 from their loss total, and the Hokies are standing at 4.2 wins and 1.2 losses. Take away both fluky finishes, and Virginia Tech has 5.6 wins and 0.6 losses. So at the end of the season, if youíre wondering why the Hokies got left out of the NCAA Tournament and are hosting a first round NIT matchup against George Mason, think back to this edition of TSLMail and youíll know the answer.

The other thing holding Virginia Tech back is their terrible schedule. Six of Techís ten games have been against teams ranked 241 or below in the RPI ratings. The Hokiesí SOS (Strength of Schedule) is rated 258. A 3-6-2.6 record (remember, that is Techís record according to the RPI) with an SOS of 258 puts the Hokies at 162 in the latest RPI ratings. Two-thirds of the SOS is based on opponentsí winning percentage, and the other third is based on opponentsí opponentsí winning percentage. As you can see from the following table, those percentages arenít very high for Tech.

RPI Ratings of Virginia Tech's Opponents
Team Record RPI SOS
Radford 4-3 168 322
Bowling Green 1-4 241 105
Western Carolina 2-6 265 147
Mount St. Mary's 1-5 266 55
Marshall 3-3 249 320
Morgan State 0-8 317 117
Ohio State 3-0 1 75
Duke 8-0 2 91
North Carolina A&T 0-5 318 118
*Ratings come from

Virginia Techís opponents have combined for a 22-34 record this season. Throw out Duke and Ohio State, and thatís 11-34. That number will improve as the Hokies get into ACC play, but itís really holding them back at this point in the season. Playing St. Johnís this weekend will help, as the Red Storm are 5-1. But because of the weighted home and away games, it wonít help much if Tech wins. They will gain 0.6 wins on the season, but the loss on St. Johnís record will partially counter that. On the other hand, if the Hokeis lose, add 1.4 losses on their record. That would put them at 3.6-4.0 in the eyes of the RPI. As you can see, the Hokies have a lot to lose and not much to gain on Saturday afternoon.

Taking it to another level, letís take a look at the conference RPI ratings. The Big Ten is currently ranked first in the RPI with a rating of 0.6045. They hold a fairly comfortable lead over the ACC, which has a rating of 0.5842. Despite the ACC winning the BigTen/ACC Challenge yet again, the RPI views the Big Ten as the better conference. The ACC is only narrowly ahead of the SEC. The SEC has a rating of 0.5835. The Missouri Valley Conference comes in at fifth, ahead of the Big 12 and narrowly behind the Big East.

Despite their low RPI rating, the Hokies find themselves ahead of Georgia Tech and Virginia. The Yellow Jackets are 3-3 on the season and are rated 233 by the RPI, with their SOS at 236. The Cavaliers are also 3-3 on the year and are rated 221 in the RPI with an SOS of 290. Florida State is ranked 86 in the RPI, and their SOS of 310 is the lowest in the ACC. The Seminoles are 5-1 on the season.

There are some very interesting early season RPI rankings. Ohio State is ranked #1, despite only beating one team ranked in the top 100. Missouri State is #3 in the nation after knocking off Northern Illinois, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Oral Roberts. UNC-Wilmington, 7-1 on the season, is #9 in the RPI thanks in part to a thrilling 59-51 victory over winless Elon. Indiana State is 3-0 and #10 in the RPI despite their SOS being rated at 207.

One other notable team that ranks ahead of Virginia Tech is 1-2 Troy. The Trojans have played Quinnipiac, Columbia and SE Louisiana. Because those teams have combined for an 11-4 record, the Trojansí SOS is rated #6 in the nation.

Now keep in mind that these numbers will even out as the season progresses and everyone begins conference play. Every year there are teams that make it to the Big Dance because of their RPI, and there are others who donít make it despite a higher RPI than another at-large team that made the field of 65. The Selection Committee should either use it or lose it. If they are going to use it, then the top 34 teams in the RPI that did not win their conference tournament should get an at-large bid. If they donít use it in that manner, then they should kick it to the curb.

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week
Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. St. John's
December 9, 2005
The Virginia Tech men's basketball team will play a critical out-of-conference matchup this Saturday afternoon when they host the St. John's Red Storm in Cassell Coliseum at 4 pm. The Hokies are 6-3, losing two games on last second shots. The Red Storm enter the matchup at 5-1. The game could potentially have big postseason implications. Both teams would like nothing more than to have a victory against a solid team from a rival conference on their resume when March arrives.

Cuffee Lands Offers
December 9, 2005
Deep Creek (Chesapeake, VA) offensive line prospect Billy Cuffee certainly had a successful return to the gridiron this season. The 6-5, 320-pound prospect, who played well for the entire season this year after missing all of the 2004 season with a hip injury, has picked up four Divison 1A scholarship offers as a result of his senior year performance.

Photo Gallery: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State
December 8, 2005
There was very little fun had by Hokie fans in Jacksonville last Saturday night, and the camera's cold, cruel eye caught it all, everything from Willie Reid's punt return to Josh Morgan's two-point conversion (that wasn't ... or rather, was). Log on and check out 60 photos from the festivities, including the bizarre sight of FSU linebacker Derek Nicholson talking pre-game smack to Virginia Tech backup walk-on QB Grant Throckmorton.

The Latest on Josh Minton
December 8, 2005
A report that surfaced earlier today indicating that 6-4, 250-pound defensive end Josh Minton had committed to the University of Kentucky is not true, as Minton remains uncommitted and still plans on taking two official visits before making his final decision.

Powell Star TE to Visit VT
December 8, 2005
Powell (TN) tight end Lee Smith has already visited Virginia Tech twice - unofficially for the Ohio and Miami games, respectively - and will head to Blacksburg for a third time this weekend. This weekend's trip will be an official visit for the 6-6, 250-pound Tennessee prep star.

Hokies Bounce Back, Whip North Carolina A&T 94-66
December 7, 2005
Virginia Tech rebounded from their heartbreaking loss at #1Duke by pounding the overmatched North Carolina A&T Aggies 94-66 in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies placed five players in double figures and hit 11 three-pointers. Zabian Dowdell scored a game-high 25 points for Tech. The big victory takes Tech to 6-3 on the season, while North Carolina A&T falls to 0-5.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina A&T
December 7, 2005
The Virginia Tech menís basketball team will try to get over their heartbreaking loss to Duke when they host the North Carolina A&T Aggies in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies have lost two games in a row, but the last 60 minutes of basketball have Tech fans feeling good about the rest of the season. Tech nearly pulled off a second half comeback against Ohio State, and it took a halfcourt shot from Dukeís worst three-point shooter to beat the Hokies in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Luckett to Announce Tomorrow
December 7, 2005
Virginia Tech and Boston College are the two finalists for 6-3, 205-pound Holy Spirit (Absecon, N.J.) athlete Zach Luckett. Each program will learn Luckett's decision tomorrow, when he will announce between the two ACC programs.

FSU Game Analysis: Noles Expose Hokies' Weaknesses
December 7, 2005
Between the drive back from Jacksonville, the Duke/VT basketball game Sunday night (aaaagghh!!!), and over a hundred emails to catch up on (note to self: laptops made in 1999 don't work very well with a hotel's free wireless Internet access), it has taken me a while to get around to analyzing this game. Plus, it's no fun watching a good team implode, and Brent Musberger and Gary Danielson are terrible announcers, so working up the courage to view this game took some time. But it's done, and here are my thoughts.

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 12/5/05
December 6, 2005
Monday night's Hokie Hotline featured head men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg and VT running backs coach Billy Hite. Greenberg had many positive things to say (despite the painful loss to Duke), and Hite fielded questions about the ACC championship game and the season.

Eckerson Shakes Up List
December 6, 2005
6-6, 270-pound offensive lineman recruit Hutch Eckerson has had a shake up at the top of his list. The Lumberton (N.C.) star, who has taken official visits to Virginia and N.C. State, now favors two schools and one of his original favorites has fallen from the top.

Gloster Sets Decision Date
December 6, 2005
6-4, 225-pound tight end recruit Drew Gloster, a 4-star prospect out of Good Counsel (Wheaton, MD), will make his collegiate decision this weekend following official visits to each of his two finalists. The official visits begin this Thursday.

Chancellor Comments on Decision
December 6, 2005
Kam Chancellor thought about taking a week or two to make his collegiate decision, but the Maury (Norfolk, VA) standout recruit decided yesterday that it wasn't necessary. Just three days after returning from an official visit to Virginia Tech, the 6-4, 215-pound QB/Ath verbally committed to the Hokies.

Graves Enjoys UVa Visit
December 5, 2005
This past weekend perhaps was Virginia's final chance to impress Meadowbrook (Richmond, VA) 6-3, 240-pound defensive end John Graves. Graves, who will take an official visit to Virginia Tech this weekend and may make a decision as soon as next week, enjoyed his time in Charlottesville.

Chancellor Commits!
December 5, 2005
Maury (Norfolk, VA) star Kam Chancellor decided he didn't need this weekend to make his collegiate decision. After receiving a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech last week, the 6-4, 215-pound quarterback/athlete decided to accept and has become the 12th player to verbally commit to the Hokies in the 2006 class.

Chancellor Gets VT Offer
December 5, 2005
Maury (Norfolk, VA) QB/Ath Kam Chancellor was hoping for a Division 1A offer to come down the pipeline. Last week, the 6-4, 215-pound prospect got what he was looking for when Virginia Tech came through. He returned the interest by taking an official visit to Blacksburg last Thursday and Friday.

Did Filer Commit?
December 5, 2005
One rumor from this past weekend was that 5-10, 175-pound cornerback recruit DeAndre Filer, a star for Indian River High School in Chesapeake, Virginia, had joined fellow official visitors Rico Bell, John Bivens and Ras-I Dowling in committing to the University of Virginia. Is there any truth to this?

Duke's Fluke Spoils Tech's Upset Bid 77-75
December 5, 2005
#1 Duke escaped Cameron Indoor Stadium with a 77-75 victory over Virginia Tech thanks to a long three-pointer from near half court by Sean Dockery as the final buzzer sounded. The game was nip-and-tuck for the entire 40 minutes, with both teams overcoming deficits at various points. The Hokies ran off 12 consecutive points on the Blue Devils before Dockeryís miraculous shot, and also topped Duke in nearly every statistical category. The loss drops Virginia Tech to 5-3 overall and 0-1 in ACC play. Duke improves to 7-0 and 1-0 in the ACC.

Hokies Beamerballed by Bowden Again, Lose 27-22
December 4, 2005
The Florida State Seminoles gave Virginia Tech a dose of their own medicine Saturday night, scoring a special teams touchdown and taking advantage of turnovers and good field position en route to a 27-22 upset of the fifth-ranked Hokies. With the win over Tech, FSU will represent the ACC in a BCS game, likely the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech will play in the Gator Bowl against Louisville on January 2nd.

Game Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State
December 2, 2005
Virginia Tech won the Coastal Division championship last week with a solid win over North Carolina and now the Hokies have a chance to win their second straight conference title in the inaugural ACC Championship Game against Florida State. Tech hasn't beaten the Seminoles in 30 years and the loss in the 1999 national championship game still smarts. However, I believe this Tech squad is even better than the 1999 team and Florida State isn't close to the same quality as 1999, so will the Hokies roll over the Seminoles, or will the FSU "jinx" remain?

Keys to the Game: Florida State
December 2, 2005
This one should be interesting. Virginia Tech vs Florida State for the ACC Championship and an automatic BCS bid to the Orange Bowl. And the Hokies are favored by two touchdowns. I havenít looked it up, but it has to be a very, very long time since Florida State was that big of an underdog in a football game.
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