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Hokies on the Bubble, As Usual
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #469, January 28, 2011

We're almost halfway through ACC basketball season, and the Hokies are right in the middle of the conference standings and on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. In other words, it's a typical late January in Blacksburg, VA.

Here's a quick look at the ACC standings, as of last night.

ACC Basketball Standings
Team ACC Overall RPI
Duke 6-1 19-1 9
FSU 5-1 15-5 47
UNC 4-1 14-5 15
Boston College 4-3 14-7 30
Clemson 3-3 14-6 81
Virginia Tech 3-3 13-6 74
Maryland 3-3 13-7 75
Georgia Tech 3-3 10-9 141
NC State 2-4 12-8 97
Virginia 2-4 11-9 137
Miami 1-5 12-8 60
Wake Forest 0-5 7-13 248

The Hokies could be in better shape, but they could be in much worse shape as well, considering they only have eight scholarship players right now. Here's a quick rundown of the ACC teams which are in contention for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Duke: Duke is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, they are in competition for a #1 seed, and they have a chance to defend their National Championship. They are easily the best team in the ACC.

Florida State: The Noles are the only team to beat Duke, and their lone ACC loss was on the road at Virginia Tech. FSU's RPI could be higher, considering their record, but the Noles are in good shape right now.

UNC: North Carolina was blown out by Georgia Tech, and won three-point squeakers over Virginia Tech and Miami. Their RPI is high, their record is solid, and the ACC is down. The Tar Heels will be in the NCAA Tournament this year, after missing it last season.

Boston College: The Eagles jumped out to a 4-1 start in conference play, but they've since lost two in a row to Florida State and Duke, both on the road. However, their RPI is still in good shape. But they only have one top 50 win (Texas A&M), and two meetings with UNC are their only remaining chances to pick up top 50 wins unless other ACC teams move up.

Clemson: Clemson has a solid record, and they are looking decent in the ACC standings. However, their RPI is very low, and they have zero top 50 wins at this point. They are on the outside looking in.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are in the middle of the pack in the ACC standings, and their RPI is lower than most NCAA Tournament at-large teams. However, they have top 50 wins over Oklahoma State and Florida State, though the Cowboys are dropping fast. As usual, Tech is squarely on the bubble.

Maryland: Joining the Hokies on the bubble are the Maryland Terrapins, who have played much better basketball since losing at home to Virginia Tech last week. However, their RPI is a bit low, and they still have no top 50 wins. The Terps are on the outside looking in, as of now.

Those seven teams are all that remains. Miami's RPI is high enough that if they went on a big winning streak, they would be back into consideration. But as of now, the Canes are a non-factor. Sidney Lowe has coached NC State out of the running. Georgia Tech, while much improved recently, lost too many games to start the season. UVA doesn't have the horses, and Wake Forest is probably the worst ACC team in the history of the conference, rivaling Georgia Tech's early ACC teams.  The Yellow Jackets went 1-27 in their first two seasons in the league.

The ACC is down this year from an RPI standpoint, and it's tough to see the conference getting more than four or five teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies are exactly where they usually are: either one of the last four in, or one of the first four out. Hopefully this season plays out differently than the last three.

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