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ACC Bubble Teams, Including VT, Have Work to Do
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #471, Feb. 11, 2011

As usual, in mid-February the ACC is divided into three groups: those who are a lock for the NCAA Tournament, those who are on the bubble, and those who have no chance. The only difference is that there are only a couple of teams who are a lock at this point, while nearly half the conference has no hope of making the Big Dance.

Those Who Are In

Duke and North Carolina are no-brainers to make the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils are 22-2 overall, 9-1 in the ACC, and the defending National Champions. As usual, Coach K doesn't have to worry about the bubble. His team's biggest worry is whether or not they will be a #1 seed when Selection Sunday rolls around.

North Carolina is 17-6 and 7-2 in league play. The Tar Heels have been hot recently, up until the second half of Wednesday's game at Duke. An RPI of #14 and an SOS of #11 means that UNC would have to fall flat on their faces to not make the NCAA Tournament. They still play Wake Forest and NC State at home, so it's hard to see that happening.

Those Who Are Out

Miami has won three in a row, and stand at 15-9 overall and 4-6 in the ACC. They have a solid RPI at #63. However, they still have to play Duke, Clemson, Boston College, Florida State and Maryland. It will be difficult to finish .500 in the ACC against that schedule.

Virginia (12-11, 3-6), Georgia Tech (10-13, 3-7), NC State (12-11, 2-7) and Wake Forest (8-16, 1-8) are all at the bottom of the conference, and all stand no chance of making the NCAA Tournament unless they win the ACC Tournament in March.

In fact, all of those teams have been slipping recently, and it's very possible that none of them will finish with winning records. That would leave the ACC with just eight postseason eligible teams.

Those on the Bubble

Florida State (17-7 overall, 7-3 ACC, #49 RPI), Clemson (17-7, 6-4, #59), Virginia Tech (15-7, 5-4, #61), Maryland (16-8, 5-4, #83) and Boston College (15-9, 5-5, #43) are the bubble teams, and they'll all fight it out for NCAA Tournament bids over the next few weeks.

Florida State would be a lock if the season ended today, but their RPI is low enough that a late-season losing streak could send them falling off the bubble. However, that's not likely to happen. The Noles still play Wake Forest, UVA and NC State. Winning those three games should lock up their bid. However, until that happens, we can't count them as a lock.

Boston College has a high RPI, but they have lost four of their last five games. They do have games remaining against Virginia and Wake Forest, but they also have to play at North Carolina and Virginia Tech. The Eagles are squarely on the bubble.

Clemson has been playing good basketball as of late, and they still play NC State and Wake Forest. 19 overall wins shouldn't be a problem, and they also get Miami and Virginia Tech in very winnable games. The Tigers probably like their chances right now.

Maryland has a solid record and are decent in the ACC standings, but they have a very low RPI rating. As of now, they would probably miss the NCAA Tournament thanks to that RPI rating. Four of their last six games are against opponents in the top 65 of the RPI, so their strength of schedule will get a bit of a boost. However, the Terps have a lot of work to do and they still have to play Boston College, Virginia Tech and UNC on the road.

Virginia Tech is right where they usually are: on the bubble. With the ACC being down this year, the Hokies probably have to get to at least 10-6 in league play to have a realistic chance of going to the NCAA Tournament. However, as last year proved, 10-6 is certainly not a guarantee.

Tech needs to win five of their final seven games to get to 10-6 in the ACC. Let's assume the Hokies lose to Duke. That means they have to win both of their road games against Wake and Virginia (can't get swept by a bad UVA team), and they must beat Georgia Tech at home (can't get swept by a bad GT team). That would get them to eight ACC wins overall, and then they'd have to win two of three against Boston College, Maryland and Clemson, with the Eagles and Terps coming to Cassell Coliseum.

That's very doable, but to be safe, the Hokies need to plan on winning an ACC Tournament game as well.


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