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Key Stretch Awaits Hokie Basketball

by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #518, January 6, 2012

Virginia Tech has a great opportunity ahead of them in basketball. Right now the Hokies are 11-3 on the season, and ranked in the top 40 of the RPI. They have three very winnable games coming up, and the chance to move to 14-3 and into the top 30 of the RPI is staring them right in the face.

So far this year, it appears the ACC is probably a four-bid league when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies can't afford to lose games they shouldn't lose, and thus far they've done a good job of avoiding that. Here's a look at their next three games, which are all winnable.

Virginia Tech's Next Three Games
Date Opp. RPI Record Location
Jan. 7 Wake Forest 111 9-5 Winston-Salem
Jan. 10 Florida State 66 9-5 Blacksburg
Jan. 14 Boston College 262 5-9 Chestnut Hill

In today's preview of the Wake Forest game, we noted that Virginia Tech is better than the Demon Deacons in almost every statistical category, including strength of schedule. That's a game the Hokies should win, though everyone knows that upsets happen in basketball every day.

So far, Boston College is the worst team in the ACC, and they are rivaling 2010-11 Wake Forest as the worst team in ACC history. They have losses to Holy Cross, UMass, Saint Louis, New Mexico, Penn State, Boston U, Providence, Harvard and Rhode Island, and their computer numbers are as bad as it gets for a power conference team. The Eagles are breaking in almost an entirely new roster from last season, and they don�t resemble the team that upset the Hokies last season, just a game after Tech beat Duke.

The game between Wake and Boston College, at home against Florida State, is interesting. The Noles were expected to make the NCAA Tournament again this year, but they are off to a very disappointing start, with losses to Harvard and Princeton. FSU should probably get away from scheduling the Ivy League for awhile.

That said, the Noles are still a talented team. They have a lot of height, and they play good defense, but they are offensively challenged. That makes them about the same as every other Florida State team under Leonard Hamilton.

Here's a look at the current ACC standings, based on RPI rank.

ACC Standings
Team Record RPI
Duke 12-2 2
UNC 13-2 18
Virginia Tech 11-3 39
Virginia 13-1 52
NC State 11-4 53
FSU 9-5 66
Miami 9-4 75
Maryland 10-3 110
Wake Forest 9-5 111
Georgia Tech 7-7 156
Clemson 7-7 234
BC 5-9 262

Virginia Tech has played a good non-conference schedule, and as a result they have the third best RPI of all the ACC schools. Right now, it's fair to say that Duke and UNC are NCAA Tournament locks, while Virginia Tech, Virginia and NC State are the next three in line.

Florida State and Miami are not out of it, because they've played a tough enough schedule to keep their RPI in the ballpark. However, they are going to have to go on big winning streaks.

As far as Virginia Tech goes, they've got a chance for a decent road win tomorrow, and then they can beat a team who might end up in the top 50 in the following game. Their objective when they go to Chestnut Hill next weekend is simply to avoid what would be an embarrassing loss.

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