March Madness Eludes Virginia Tech Basketball

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

The Virginia Tech men's basketball team hasn't made it to the NCAA Tournament since the 2007 season. Have there been instances since then where the Hokies deserved to go dancing, or did the team deserve the NIT?

On Wednesday, I watched as the Hokies took on the Miami Hurricanes for the third time this season. Unfortunately, Tech couldn't pull off a third victory over Miami and lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament, thus ending the men's basketball season.

With a record of 9-22, the Hokies put possibly their most forgettable season in history behind them. When trying to think of a defining moment, I struggled to find one. I challenge you to do the same. Turnovers, missed field goals, rushed shots, sloppy play, and other team's dunks kept running through my head.

I think the moment that I'll remember most will be during the North Carolina game when the referees weren't giving Tech any calls. Cassell became livid after a couple of blown calls, James Johnson grew disgusted and let the referees hear it, and he then pumped up the crowd, elevating his arms in the process. It was a very emotional and chilling event.

A broadcaster said during the first round game versus Miami that James Johnson was a "nice guy." I thought about that for a while. Yes, Johnson is a nice guy, is approachable, and well respected by fans and media. But that's not how Johnson should ultimately want to be remembered if he wants to be successful in Blacksburg. As some say: "Nice guys finish last." You don't hear people saying that about Seth Greenberg do you? Greenberg was such an intense person on and off the court. When he was angry or frustrated he didn't care who knew it. Remember the Greenberg stare? Sends chills down my spine.

With March Madness approaching it's nice to reminisce on the days of Greenberg, Tech's 2007 NCAA Tournament appearance, the nervousness of being on the Bubble, and controversial NIT selections.

Season


Overall Record


Conference Record


Finished


Post-Season


2003-04


15-14

7-9

T-8th (Big East)

2004-05


16-14

8-8

T-4th (ACC)

NIT 2nd Round

2005-06


14-16

4-12

T-10th

2006-07


22-12

10-6

T-3rd

NCAA 2nd Round

2007-08


21-14

9-7

4th

NIT Quarterfinals

2008-09


19-15

7-9

T-7th

NIT 2nd Round

2009-10


25-9

10-6

T-3rd

NIT Quarterfinals

2010-11


22-12

9-7

T-4th

NIT 2nd

2011-12


15-16

4-12

9th

Best Wins by season:

2003-04: #23 Providence 69-57

2004-05: #12 Georgia Tech 70-69, #7 Duke 67-65

2005-06: Failed to beat a ranked opponent

2006-07: #5 Duke 69-67 (OT), #4 North Carolina 81-80 (OT)

2007-08: Failed to beat a ranked opponent

2008-09: #1 Wake Forest 78-71, #12 Clemson 80-77

2009-10: #23 Miami 81-66, #23 Wake Forest 87-83

2010-11: #1 Duke 64-60

2011-12: #15 Virginia 47-45

Just looking at overall records and finishes within the conference doesn't really do it justice. The selection committee looks at every little detail when selecting teams for the NCAA Tournament. Friday, on SportsCenter  they had a former member of the selection committee on the show discussing seeding. When talking about Kansas he said that the committee could very well contemplate Kansas' seeding based on Joel Embiid's ability to play. That my friends is how harsh the committee is. With that being said, let's take a look at what the committee saw with what it basically looked at first and foremost with the Hokies over the Greenberg years.

Season


Rating Percentage Index (RPI) Rank


Strength of Schedule Rank


2003-04

108

122

2004-05

112

90

2005-06

146

91

2006-07

34

79

2007-08

52

22

2008-09

61

39

2009-10

59

25

2010-11

62

133

2011-12

116

77

The 06-07 season was obviously Tech's most successful one over recent years. They finished the regular season with an RPI of 34 and had had 79th hardest schedule in the NCAA. They also beat two top five teams that season (#5 Duke and #4 North Carolina) and finished tied for third in the ACC. This was good enough to earn the Hokies an At-Large Bid as a #5 seed.  Meanwhile. Tech would be on the Bubble for the next four seasons, making it to the NIT each post season. In the 07-08 season, the Hokies failed to beat a ranked opponent which lead to the snub. If they had beat let's say half of their ranked opponents they'd have made the NCAA Tournament easily with the 22nd hardest schedule in the nation. In 08-09 there was no way they were going, finishing tied for seventh in the ACC. Then in 09-10 they went 2-5 versus ranked opponents, made an early exit in the ACC Tournament in the first round, and lost games they should've won. Finally, in the 10-11 season, Tech's strength of schedule was 133rd in the nation and they simply needed more wins versus quality opponents to make it in.

A lack of consistency has killed the Hokies over the years. If a team wants to be a lock to make it into the NCAA Tournament they need quality wins versus ranked opponents, be top three or four in their respective conference, win games they are projected to win, "pass the eye test", and simply be consistent. Tech has done none of this over the years.

You must admit, it was a fun run sweating bullets as Tech sat on the Bubble, only to see they were the first four or more out of the tourney. As you sit on your couch or in your recliner on this year's Selection Sunday, think about how nice it was to be on the Bubble and even be considered for the tournament. Because right now the Hokies are a long way from that.


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