Posted: 5:36 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014
By Omega Wolf
Over the last decade six ACC teams, including Virginia Tech twice, have finished above .500 in league play and failed to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament.
I've been hearing a lot of noise in the comments of late professing a belief that N.C. State could finish 10-8 in the ACC and still not get an invite to The Large Cotillion. In the finite space in my brain that is dedicated to understanding stuff, this simply did not compute. In my mind, over .500 in the ACC equals a fitting for dancing shoes.
Alas, as my wife could have told you, I am very often wrong. The handy chart below shows you the six teams in the last decade to finish above even in the ACC and not get an at-large invite.
*RPI on selection Sunday
If N.C. State closes the conference campaign at 5-3, it will finish 20-11 overall and 10-8 in league play. That smells like an NCAA team to me, but the six teams listed above were in that same boat. Damn thing sank.
Ultimately, it's that column on the right that matters more than the league W-L record. The Pack have an RPI ranking of 59th at this second. The pessimist might note that 59th is in the neighborhood of all those teams listed above (save UVa, which shot itself in the foot a year ago by scheduling too many cupcakes); the optimist might note that 59th is better than all but two of those teams.
Thanks to Boston College (180) and Virginia Tech (211), the average RPI of the teams remaining on State's slate is just 88, so 5-3 down the stretch might not be enough to boost the RPI into the top 50, which I believe would make for a tourney lock regardless of whether State has a quote unquote marquee win on its résumé.
As we've said for some time, State has no margin for error at this point. Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest all have to be wins. If the Pack can take all of those, the question is whether or not one win in the four games against Clemson (on the road), North Carolina, Pittsburgh (on the road), and Syracuse (on the road) will be enough. I hope so, as it's hard to see two or more wins in that foursome, especially since three of those games go down away from the friendly confines of PNC Arena.
It's going to be close.