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Hokies on the Hunt for Top 50 Wins
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #463, December 17, 2010
Despite the 5-4 start to the 2010-11 basketball season, Virginia Tech remains strong in the eyes of the computers. It's a big change from last season, when the Hokies were left out of the NCAA Tournament thanks to a low RPI and an even lower non-conference strength of schedule.
Right now the Hokies are 68th nationally in the RPI, despite their average record. That is thanks to a strength of schedule that ranks 24th in the country. All of those numbers are from RealTimeRPI.com.
Yes, the Hokies have played some dogs: Campbell (4-3, #224), Cal State Northridge (1-6, #291) and UNC Greensboro (0-9, #308). But they have also played some teams that rank high in the numbers: Kansas State (8-1, #15), Oklahoma State (9-1, #70), UNLV (9-2, #26), Purdue (9-1, #47) UVA (6-3, #66) and Penn State (7-3, #83). To date, Oklahoma State's only loss came at the hands of Virginia Tech.
The Cowboys are a team that can really help the Hokies later in the year. Though they haven't beaten anyone particularly good, they are 9-1 and have improved as a team. As Big 12 play opens up, their strength of schedule will improve. If they can win two or three more non-conference games, and then finish .500 in the Big 12, Tech could be looking at a possible top 50 non-conference victory. That would help a lot on Selection Sunday.
Unfortunately, the Hokies might not get a lot of help from the remainder of their non-conference schedule. Despite playing for the SEC Championship a year ago, Mississippi State is only #232 in the RPI despite their 7-2 record. The Bulldogs haven't played a single game away from Starkville, and their best wins were a two-point win over Appalachian State and a nine-point victory against Nicholls State. They lost to Florida Atlantic and East Tennessee State.
That being said, Mississippi State's RPI and strength of schedule will shoot up when SEC play begins. They'll be a top 100 or top 75 team at some point this year, especially if Renardo Sidney lives up to the hype. Sidney is considered a lottery pick in the NBA Draft, and he'll play his first college game against Virginia Tech on Saturday night.
After the Bulldogs, Virginia Tech's remaining non-conference schedule consists of St. Bonaventure, USC Upstate, Mount St. Mary's and Longwood.
St. Bonaventure is an A-10 team who sits at #88 in the RPI with a 5-3 record. They lost to two sub-200 teams (Niagara and Canisius), but they also got a road win at St. John's. But #88 in the RPI is probably the highest we'll see them all season.
USC Upstate (#228), Mount St. Mary's (#269) and Longwood (#279) were scheduled to get some wins for the Hokies. Tech should win all three of those games, and they need to beat Mississippi State and St. Bonaventure as well. If they can go 10-4 in their non-conference schedule, with hopefully a top 50 win against Oklahoma State, they'll have a puncher's chance of making the NCAA Tournament if they do well in ACC play.
They'll need some more top 50 wins however, and right now the ACC has five teams in the top 50: Duke (3), Boston College (10), UNC (16), Miami (18) and NC State (33). The Hokies will play Duke once (home), Boston College twice, UNC once (away), Miami once (home) and NC State once (away).
The opportunity for top 50 wins
will be there, but Tech must take advantage of them.
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