Monday, March 1, 1999
Bonnie's Troops Lose; NCAA's Next ... At Cassell?
Now that the Virginia Tech women have fallen once again to their arch nemesis, Xavier, and they await their NCAA bid with a sparkling 26-2 record, only one question remains: willl the Hokies be hosting a subregional, or not?
My own personal gut feeling is yes. I felt going into the Atlantic 10 tournament that a first-round loss might jeopardize Tech's chances of playing host, but that if the Hokies could win that first round game, they might still get seeded Top 4 in one of the regions, thus earning the right to host a subregional.
There wasn't any sound logic to that, just a gut feeling, as I said, but I'll try to back it up with numbers. The official line is that the NCAA tries to award subregional hosting to the Top 16 seeds in their RPI ratings, "whenever possible."
When you're a Hokie, the phrase "whenever possible" is scary, because it can be applied very arbitrarily to justify similarly arbitrary politics, perhaps giving the Hokies the short end of the stick along the way. But, all paranoia aside, let's pretend that if the Hokies do finish in the Top 16, they'll get to play host to three other teams in the first two rounds of the NCAA's.
Going into the A-10 tournament, Tech's RPI rating was 4th, pretty darn good. They would have to drop all the way to #17 to fall out of consideration for being a home site, and that's a long drop that isn't likely to happen. The last time Tech was ranked this high in the RPI and lost to Xavier, the Hokies only dropped to #9.
And there was one big difference between then and now. Namely, pretty much nobody lost at the same time as Tech, so the Hokies free-falled (free-fell?) through the RPI rankings. This time, it's conference tournament time, and many of the teams around Tech will also suffer losses, meaning that their RPI ratings will drop along with Tech's. So it's unlikely that the Hokies will fall very far, relatively speaking.
Scanning the RPI ratings from last Friday quickly (and they may be updated by the time you click that link), I see that, as I said, Tech is 4th. In the Top 16, there are 4 SEC teams (at least 3 will lose in their tournament), and there are 3 Big East teams (at least 2 of them will lose, as well).
And much like Tech, Duke, #6 in the RPI, lost early in the ACC tournament. And Colorado State, #5 in the RPI, took a big hit to their strength of schedule, a major RPI component, when they played #1 billion Air Force in the WAC tournament.
My point, perhaps lost amid all that babbling, is this: while Tech didn't fare well in the A-10 tournament, there's all sorts of carnage occurring among the Top 16. Many of them also took hits this weekend, and when the smoke clears and the ratings are updated, Tech will still probably be Top 10.
Which means, if the NCAA tournament selection committee does the right thing, the Hokies will indeed host a subregional. Talk about a great reward for a great season!
Although I have not verified it, I have heard that the NCAA women's tournament selection show will follow the men's selection show, and will be broadcast on ESPN on Sunday, March 7th, some time around 5 p.m. But I'm betting that word about the seedings, and whether or not Tech will be a host, will leak out before then, and we'll know through unofficial channels. Stay tuned! And don't ask me about tickets - those questions are best asked to the good people located at 1-800-VATECH4.
Hokie Men Draw Fordham
Meanwhile, the Tech men will play Fordham Wednesday, March 3rd, at noon in the 1999 Atlantic-10 tournament. Tech beat Fordham a couple of weeks ago with that amazing comeback, and the Rams will no doubt be seeking revenge.
A win would be nice, but the buzz-saw known as Temple looms in the second round, so even if Tech beats Fordham, the Hokies' stay in Philly is likely to be a short one. For the Tech men, the only thing worse than playing GW in the Smith Center is playing Temple ... at all.
Speaking of GW, did you see the last-second three-pointer that GW's Shawnta Rogers hit against Xavier to win the A-10 West, 77-74? What a thriller! Just think - with that one shot, Shawnta scored more points against Xavier than he had in his last 37 minutes against Andre Ray (yeah, I know "Webster" was sick in the second go-round. It's a good line, anyway).
Good luck in Philly, fellas! And Tech fans, if you're going to the game, details about the tournament can be found at on the men's basketball page on the official Atlantic 10 web site. I don't know about TV coverage yet, so keep an eye on the message board and News and Notes if you need to find out TV details.