Soft schedule might be helping Hokies

February, 18, 2010
Seth Greenberg has an answer ready when people want to criticize Virginia Tech's nonconference schedule.

He says the Hokies have made plenty of attempts to play out of their comfort zone.

However, the numbers may show a different story. The Hokies have a nonconference strength of schedule of 103 which is keeping their overall RPI at 47 from climbing too high. The overall strength of schedule is even worse at 193 with nine of the Hokies' 21 wins came against teams with RPI below 201.

Despite this, Virginia Tech (8-3, 21-4 overall) is the new surprise team in the ACC sitting a game behind first-place Duke in the loss column.

The Hokies' hopes of making the field rest in their remaining conference games.

Virginia Tech plays at Duke Sunday and the schedule finishes up with games at BC (Feb. 24) before hosting Maryland (Feb. 27) and NC State (March 3). It's hard to see a complete collapse that would prevent the Hokies from making the NCAA tournament.

The ACC competition is how the Hokies can make the NCAA tournament. But don't tell that to Greenberg.

Criticizing his schedule is "ridiculous," according to him.

Here is his theory: he played on the road at two Big Ten schools, one on his own (Penn State) and one given to him by the Big Ten-ACC Challenge (Iowa); he played at an Atlantic Sun team (Campbell), hosted an SEC school (Georgia), played at a perennial A-10 contender (Temple, but actually at the Palestra in the Philadelphia Classic not on Temple's campus) and played a Big East school (Seton Hall) on a neutral court (Cancun, Mexico).

The Hokies won every one of those games, save Temple. And Greenberg says, the Hokies played a healthy North Carolina in Chapel Hill when the Tar Heels were still, well, the Tar Heels, and prior to their monumental collapse.

All this is true, and while the selection committee does look at which teams choose to play they still have to deal with the raw data.

The Hokies did play multiple power-sx schools, but going after teams that were going to be picked either low or in the middle of their respective conferences, except for Temple, can't be ignored.

On the other hand Tech doesn't have a bad loss. The ACC road losses at North Carolina, Miami and Florida State should not damaging and neiter should the loss to Temple.

What can't be dismissed is the fact that Greenberg took a gamble and it payed off. He played the percentages with his schedule and won enough games against a bit of a softer schedule. He did hold up his end in the ACC. The unbalanced schedule allowed the Hokies to avoid road trips to Maryland and Wake Forest, but missed out on home games with Florida State and Duke.

In the end, what Greenberg did was manipulate a way to earn a bid by winning in a conference that commands respect and earns credibility. Virginia Tech is hardly blazing a new trail as other schools have done this same thing in the past. This is just the latest example of a school figuring out a way to earn a bid.

"There are things that are outside of my control and how teams do," Greenberg said. "We've got a good team. I like our team. We have evolved and developed and everything is buying in more and more with five league games to go."

Greenberg has done a phenomenal job with this team. He has talent with Malcolm Delaney, Dorenzo Hudson, Jeff Allen and J.T. Thompson. All are the core. All play hard. All defend. The Hokies are flawed. They are beatable. But they beat the system by playing the schedule to near perfection.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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