Virginia Tech Heads Back to NIT Thanks to Weak Non-Conference Slate

Justin CatesCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2010

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 12:  Seth Greenberg, head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies on the sidelines against the University of Miami Hurricanes in their quarterfinal game in the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 12, 2010 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The Hokies learned their postseason fate was once again a spot in the NIT, as Tech was left out of the NCAA Tournament field of 65 Sunday.

Tech earned the somewhat dubious honor of being named a No. 1 seed in the NIT and will host a first round game Wednesday at 7 PM against Quinnipiac.

The Hokies became the first ACC team to finish the regular season with a conference record of 10-6 to not make the NCAA tournament.

Making matters worse, Virginia Tech was the only one of the ACC’s top seven teams that failed to earn an invite to the big dance. Three of those teams—Wake Forest, Clemson, and Georgia Tech—finished below Tech in the standings and lost to the Hokies during the season.

Presumably Tech’s much-discussed weak non-conference schedule did in their chances of earning an at-large bid.

During past stays on the “bubble,” Tech has been criticized for not winning enough non-conference games. This year, Tech won more games, but they weren’t the right kind.

"We’ve got to figure out: What’s the criteria?" Tech coach Seth Greenberg said Sunday night.

"The criteria changes. Each selection committee has their own personality. That’s the thing that makes it the hardest. You just have no control over your opponents’ and your opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage."

The notable opponents on the schedule, including defending NIT champions Penn State, all underachieved and left the Hokies with a truly miserable slate.

In the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee, perhaps it would have been better to schedule Kansas or Kentucky and get walloped than to beat an inferior team.

That’s certainly how the Ratings Percentage Index views things: 75 percent of the RPI is determined by strength of schedule.

Personally, I’ve never put much stock in a ratings system that sometimes drops teams after victories. The RPI makes the BCS look reasonable at times. However, the fact remains that the tournament selection committee takes the RPI into account at least partially when determining which teams make the field and which don’t.

In the age of “bracketology” and such non sequiturs as “bad loss,” it isn’t surprising the selection process doesn’t always make sense.

As the selection committee sees it, there are both good and bad losses and there are burst bubbles, but hey, someone is always left out.

So after the Hokies finish up in the NIT and Greenberg goes back to the drawing board, here’s hoping he schedules some big-time opponents.

Even if the Hokies lose by 40 points, that will put Tech one step closer to returning to the big dance.

Although it won’t matter if and when the tournament expands to 96 teams—not even the Hokies can be on the “bubble” then.