This article compares two teams currently on the NCAA tournament bubble with comparable RPI and overall credentials. Think of it as a virtual play-in game; two teams who could potentially meet in a First Four matchup.
Richmond (21-7, 10-3 A-10); RPI: 60, SOS: 130
Virginia Tech (18-8, 8-5 ACC); RPI: 64, SOS: 110
Common opponents: Purdue, Georgia Tech
Why Richmond Gets In:
The Atlantic 10 has two teams who are at the edge of the Top 25, and are solidly in the NCAA tournament at this point—Xavier and Temple. Richmond is currently in third place, one game back of Temple, at 10-3. In a league that has received three bids each of the past three seasons, third is a good spot for the Spiders to be sitting.
Richmond scored an enormous early season win in Chicago, when they knocked off Purdue—a team ranked in the Top 10 much of the season. Right now, with Purdue coming off huge wins last week over Wisconsin and Ohio State, that win looks even more impressive. A win over a top-10 team is one thing—doing it on a neutral (almost true road) environment takes it to a new level. Chris Mooney and the Spiders hold quite a trump card in their at-large bid arsenal.
Of Richmond’s 21 wins on the season, 10 of them have come away from home. They are also a very impressive 5-1 in A-10 road games this season. That’s better than second place Temple, who is currently 4-2 on the road. Richmond’s only road loss in conference play is in fact to the Owls. The Spiders have two respectable road wins vs. the RPI top 100 in Dayton and Seton Hall.
Why Richmond Is Left Out:
Richmond may have a hold on third place in the A-10 at the moment, but it may in fact be a somewhat distant third. Look at how Richmond fared in their games against Xavier and Temple. The Spiders lost by 20 or more to each team, losing by 23 at home to Xavier and then by 20 at Temple last week. Those margins will not sit too well with the committee when debating on a possible third team from the A-10.
While the win over Purdue is substantial, Richmond does not have another win over a team who is likely to be in the NCAA tournament. In terms of RPI, the Spiders’ second best win is over VCU (55), a team which is still on the bubble but probably would not be in at this point. Their win over Dayton is Richmond’s only A-10 win over a team in the RPI top 100, an indication that the middle of the league is not quite as solid as recent three bid years.
In addition to having just one top-50 win, Richmond has a few questionable losses. A 13 point loss to Georgia Tech (183 RPI) in December at Atlantis (not Atlanta) does not look too good when you consider that Tech has fallen to 11th in the ACC. The Spiders also lost home games to Bucknell and Rhode Island, two teams outside the RPI top 75. Bucknell may wind up going to the NCAAs as the Patriot League champion, but it’s still a game Richmond should normally handle.
Why Virginia Tech Gets In:
Virginia Tech’s win at Wake Forest this week improved their record to 8-5 in the ACC. That is good for fourth place in the league, a game behind Florida State. The Hokies are a full game ahead of Clemson and Maryland—two teams fighting to stay on the bubble—and a game and a half up on Boston College. If those standings hold through the last three games, the Hokies would be sitting pretty as the ACC’s fourth place team.
Virginia Tech still has a shot at third place in the league, thanks to their win over Florida State in Blacksburg. In addition to the win over FSU, Virginia Tech owns a perfect 7-0 mark against teams in the 51-100 range of the RPI. This includes a win over Oklahoma State in Las Vegas, a win over fellow-bubble sitter Penn State, and a season sweep over the same Maryland team that just beat FSU.
In past years, Virginia Tech has been pointed to as a perfect example of a team being left out of the tournament because of their weaker non-conference schedule. This year, however, the Hokies made sure to play some quality teams outside the league. This includes three currently in the Top 30 of the RPI—Purdue, UNLV and Kansas State. Although the Hokies lost all three, the quality of teams played will help take the committee’s focus off of the excess of 200-plus RPI teams that Seth Greenberg’s team has loaded up on in the past.
Why Virginia Tech is Left Out
In the unbalanced world of ACC schedules, Virginia Tech received a relatively easy draw. While it helps lead to more wins and a higher finish in the standings, it takes away opportunities for quality wins. The Hokies have played seven of their 13 ACC games thus far against teams in the bottom four teams of the league—Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia twice each and NC State.
That’s not the worst part. Virginia Tech has actually lost three of those seven games. In terms of RPI, the worst loss in ACC play is a 15 point loss at Georgia Tech. The biggest blow, however, was a loss this past weekend at Virginia, which gave them a season sweep over the Hokies. While Virginia has improved since the beginning of the season, the Hokies two losses to a team who may miss the NIT is inexcusable.
At this point, Virginia Tech does not quite have the wins in the ACC to offset those damaging losses. While they do have some opportunities down the stretch—against Duke and Clemson—to make up for this, there is very little of real substance in the Hokies at-large profile.
Who Gets In?
While both teams have relatively shallow tournament profiles, Richmond is in a little better shape currently. Their huge win over Purdue who Virginia Tech lost to at home,is a solid tiebreaker between the two. Also, Richmond does not have any bad losses to teams toward the bottom of their conference, which is something that may ultimately come back to bite Virginia Tech—once again.
Richmond: IN: Virginia Tech: OUT
Other matchups to consider: