Virginia Tech Can Breathe Easier This Selection Sunday

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 11: Malcolm Delaney #23 of the Virginia Tech Hokies shoots against Bernard James #5 of the Florida State Seminoles in the quarterfinals of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 11, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Virginia Tech won 52-51 in regulation. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Regardless of the outcome of today's game against Duke, odds are Virginia Tech is going to the big dance.

The Hokies' win over Florida State has advanced them up several bracket projections and merely playing Duke today will help their strength of schedule and RPI. SB Nation's Chris DobberteanCBS Sports' Jerry Palm and Bracketology 101 all have Virginia Tech with a No. 11 seed. ESPN's Joe Lunardi and D1scourse's Patrick Stevens both have Tech in the "last four in" as the fourth-to-last team in the field.

If Tech loses to Duke, it would probably only knock it down one or two spots in the at-large ladder, meaning three bids would have to be stolen for it to have a realistic shot of being left out of the tournament.

Teams that would need to either move head of Tech in the ladder or secure an automatic bid include Penn State in the Big Ten, Dayton in the Atlantic 10 and Boise State in the WAC. All three would need to win their conference tournaments or in Penn State's case make the final to conceivably move ahead of the Hokies. Only then would Tech be in any danger whatsoever.

And that assumes the committee thinks the worst of the Hokies.

If Tech beats Duke, not only is it an absolute lock for the tournament, but it probably won't even have to play in the First Four in Dayton. Instead, the Hokies would be a solid No. 11 seed.

The bottom line is this Selection Sunday won't be nearly as stressful as the last three for Virginia Tech fans. That's in part due to an expanded NCAA Tournament field and in part because the Hokies finally won a must-win game in early March.

A loss to Duke means the Hokies will probably be a No. 12 seed and head to Dayton as one of the inaugural First Four. That wouldn't bode well for a team that is about to play its third game in as many days and only has seven scholarship players. Tech would only get two or three full days of rest before having to participate in an NCAA Tournament game against a guaranteed tough opponent.

But at least the Hokies will be participating this time around.

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