I'm not here to rain on everyone's parade, but be aware, we can still miss the tournament. This is a cautionary tale, warning those who think we are a lock to tone down your level of certainty and replace it with optimism.
Argument #1- Out of Conference wins- Tech has for the fourth year in a row really hurt itself by not beating any world-beaters out of conference. This year we drastically improved our OOC SOS, but we didn't manage to beat any big whigs, laying a duck against Purdue (with some of the worst ball-handling I've ever seen), Kansas State (some of the worst officiating I've ever seen) and letting another opportunity slip by, losing to UNLV. Right now our best OOC win is either Oklahoma St. or Penn St., and to the committee, that's not very encouraging. However, by scheduling some of these programs alone, Tech may be able to overcome not having a real and true quality OOC win.
Argument #2- We've beaten #1 before and missed out- In the 2008-09 season we beat the #1 Demon Deacons on their home court when they were undefeated. However, although they were VERY talented, they were also a little too unseasoned and weren't able to maintain their lofty performance for the rest of the season. By the time the tournament started they were a 4 seed, which helped to diminish Tech's already bleeding résumé. Yes Wake was a #1, and yes Wake was undefeated, but how they got there was by sitting around and beating up on teams (much the same way that Clemson did for several years) that were nobodies as the higher ranked teams lost. If you do that far enough into the season and you're the last undefeated program (and you're Wake, not FAU) rest assured you'll be #1. Yes they beat Duke, but the point is, this team was not the best team in the land. And as I mentioned before, we hurt ourselves with bad losses and losses at the buzzer. Our defense was porous late in games and our offense was predicated on hitting the big game-winning shot.
Argument #3- Bad losses- We currently have 3 REALLY bad losses to ACC cellar-dwellers, including getting swept by an inept UVA team. Even with a win against Duke, seeing a two-loss to UVA campaign and losing to a Georgia Tech team that is as bad as almost any ACC foe in recent memory (oh yeah, nevermind, there's Wake this year) will stand out and detract from our résumé. Even if we had only lost to UVA once it would have been a significant benefit as the committee may have been willing to overlook the L as a fluke. Now it's clear, we...
Argument #4- Play down to our competition- Going down our schedule you see we haven't really blown that many teams out, especially ones that we should've. When it's the lower-tier ACC teams you can look past it, but when it's the St. Bonny's, Campbell's and USC Upstate's of the world it becomes an eye-sore. Hey, a win is a win is a win, but to the committee, sexy stands out, and needless to say those wins aren't sexy. All of these things combined leave us with...
Argument #5- Work left to do- As Seth Greenberg stated in the post-game (after being assured by Dick Vitale and co. that they'd be dancing) we still have a minimum of 3 games left (two regular season against BC and Clemson and at least one no matter what in the ACC Tourney). Go 0-3, and even in my opinion (that's a Hokie homer's opinion) we're out. So we can't let the Duke game get to our heads. I'd hope that as much as these seniors want a tournament bid they wouldn't let that happen, but BC has already beaten us this year, Clemson is capable of beating us, especially in the Littlejohn which gets loud, and remember an upstart Miami team took us down in the second round (our first game) of the tourney last year! So don't discount this scenario as impossible, especially with this group. 1-2 will put us back on the bubble, and anything 2-1 or better will put us comfortably in. But it is necessity that we don't go 0-3, because we were omitted going 10-6 in a slightly stronger ACC last year. 9-7 in THIS year's ACC doesn't equate a bid without some pretty severe extenuating circumstances (not our injuries, more like beating 5 ranked teams).
The one argument for us however is that we have the media on our side. They have watched us sit on the bubble and be slighted 2 of the last 3 years, and I know that they will take our fight to the selection committee to see our kids play in the tournament. They have been a little bit of a deciding factor by always going to bat for us, especially in the wake of our injury situation. If Dick Vitale, Andy Katz and Joe Lunardi's talking heads penetrate the Selection Committee's collective thought membrane, we'll be dancing.