Something compels me after Wednesday night’s loss to Miami to ask the question. It was posed to Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt today and I’ll pose it to you.
Is Georgia Tech an NCAA tournament team?
“If they were giving out bids today, I’d say yeah we’re in,” Hewitt said. “But they’re not giving out bids today.”
He knows things get no easier with three more ACC road games at Wake Forest, at Maryland and at Clemson. (Tech’s home schedule is potentially a little friendlier with games against North Carolina, Boston College and Virginia Tech – but you can’t assume that, either).
But let’s look at things right now. After the loss at Miami, the Yellow Jackets are 17-7, 5-5 in the ACC. They are bunched together with Clemson and Florida State in sixth place in league standings. If the NCAA tournament committee were choosing right now, I think they might have some head scratching to do.
Since the ACC expanded to 12 teams in 2006, the most teams taken in the NCAA tournament was seven in 2007 and 2009. Right now, Tech is hanging on right at the edge in those sixth-through-eighth spots. One of the other spots is held by Florida State, which swept Georgia Tech in two games this season. (The other is Clemson, which Tech beat by 2 but still has to play on the road.)
All that is assuming, too, that the NCAA will take from the high range this year, when currently only two ACC teams are ranked in the Top 25 (Duke at No. 8, and Tech at No. 20), and only three ACC teams are rated in the Top 25 in RPI: Duke at No. 3, Wake Forest at No. 16, and Georgia Tech at No. 25.
(The next highest ACC team in terms of RPI is Clemson at No. 40, based on play through Sunday, according to The Collegiate Basketball News.)
The Yellow Jackets are now 4-1 at home, and 1-4 on the road. If you extrapolate that over the last six games – they figure to do more of the same – Tech would finish the regular season at .500 in the ACC.
Is that good enough?
“You look at our strength of schedule, I think is 14th or 15th in the country,” Hewitt said. “We are right now the second best defensive team in the nation. It’s Kansas, Florida State and Georgia Tech. We’re tied (with FSU) for second in field goal percentage defense at 36.8. There are a lot of positive things going on. I just think unfortunately the way things are looked at these days it’s ‘let’s look at the negative’ and go from there.”
Tech has had impressive wins against Duke and Wake Forest at home. They have some questionable losses on the road – at Georgia and Miami now. The sole road ACC win at North Carolina is looking less substantial these days. You just wonder if Wednesday night becomes a killer.
For anybody who wants to say Tech could still win the ACC tournament and get the automatic bid, I say this: sure, it’s possible to win three games in three days. But winning four games in four days against an opponent that’s likely only played three games in four days is not the same thing. Don’t count on it. And don’t count on Tech finishing in the top four of the ACC to get that first-round bye now, unless there’s a roll coming that I don’t foresee.
Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of discussion about this going forward. I just thought I’d open the floor today.
ACC forecasters wrong
Just for kicks, and the Duke-Carolina game last night made me think of it, I pulled out the preseason predictions by the ACC writers, who made the mistake of picking North Carolina and Duke in a tie for first place. It wasn’t the only prediction not looking too good right now, and I’m talking about Maryland and Virginia.
Here’s a look at predicted and actual:
1. Duke 1. Duke (8-2)
1. UNC 2. Maryland (6-2)
3. Clemson 3. Wake Forest (7-3)
4. Ga Tech 4. Virginia Tech (6-3)
5. Maryland 5. Virginia (5-3)
6. Wake Forest 6. Clemson (5-5)
7. Florida State 6. Florida State (5-5)
8. Virginia Tech 6. Georgia Tech (5-5)
9. Boston College 9. Miami (3-7)
10. Miami 9. Boston College (3-7)
11. Virginia 11. UNC (2-7)
12. N.C. State 12. N.C. State (2-8)
I also thought I’d pass along a good read on Chas McFarland, Wake Forest’s Mr. Nasty, that is supposed to appear in ESPN the Magazine. I link to it here for your viewing pleasure. He doesn’t quite have the name recognition as J.J. Redick, but I have a feeling you guys know who he is. And it’s pronounced “Chase” by the way.
And before I go, let me say Hewitt did say today he’s considering giving Brian Oliver the start over Mfon Udofia on Saturday at Wake. He loves Udofia’s defensive contribution and his effort to loose balls, but Udofia has scored one point in Tech’s last three games, while Oliver has 34 in that same time.