Seth Greenberg has changed Virginia Tech basketball’s scheduling philosophy for the better.
Preparing for his ninth season as the Hokies’ coach, Greenberg has constructed an ambitious non-conference road for Tech in 2011-12 that includes at least three games against teams that reached last season’s NCAA tournament.
“We are going to play better teams from non-BCS conferences,” Greenberg told Tech radio voice Bill Roth in an interview posted Sunday on HokieSports.com. “We’re going to shore up our ‘middle schedule’ and try to eliminate teams from the far right who are 250 [in the Rating Percentage Index] and below. We want to play more teams from the far left of the RPI. The culture is not what it was 10 years ago. There is no such thing as a mid-major anymore.”
Greenberg is as spot-on as Dirk Nowitzki’s jumper. As George Mason, Butler and VCU, among others, have proven, teams from outside the so-called Bowl Championship Series leagues are absolutely capable of competing with those from the ACC, Big East, Big 12, etc. And playing quality opponents, not necessarily THE best, but certainly not THE worst, from conferences such as the Colonial, Atlantic 10 and Southern is essential to enhancing your NCAA tournament credentials.
Games next season with Brigham Young, George Mason, East Tennessee State, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure likely will do just that. The first two not only played but also advanced in the NCAA tournament, and all were ranked among the top 125 by collegerpi.com.
Add encounters with top-100 BCS conference opponents Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Minnesota, plus a possible collision with Syracuse the NIT Season Tip-Off, and you have what should be the toughest schedule of Greenberg’s tenure.
Depending on how the NIT bracket falls – Tech opens against Mason – the Hokies could face only two non-league foes from outside last season’s top 200: The Citadel (294) and Eastern Michigan (324).
That said, projecting opponents for future schedules is a crapshoot. Today’s contender could be manana’s bust. Regardless, Greenberg’s effort is worthy.
Tech has not reached the NCAA tournament four years running, and non-conference strength-of-schedule is among the reasons, most glaringly two seasons ago. Here are the details.
2007-08: Non-conference strength-of-schedule of 135. Two non-league tests versus the top 100, five against teams below 200.
2008-09: NCSOS 160. Three top-100 opponents outside the ACC, five below 200.
2009-10: NCSOS 339. Two top 100s, nine below 200. Among the latter was an assigned game against Iowa in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
2010-11: NCSOS 157. Five top 100s, very credible, but six below 230.
Contrast that to Old Dominion, which had a No. 14 NCSOS last season. The Monarchs played three non-CAA opponents ranked lower than 200th, nine rated among the top 100, including top 50 Georgetown, Xavier, Missouri, Richmond and Cleveland State.
And just to reiterate, had Tech played its 2011-12 schedule last season, those numbers would have been six top 100s and two below 200.
The Hokies’ upgrade can mean only two things: Greenberg hears the message from the NCAA selection committee, and he’s very high on the five-man freshman class that includes forwards Dorian Finney-Smith of two-time defending state champion Norcom and C.J. Barksdale of Hargrave Military Academy.
The Hokies’ known non-conference opponents for next season with 2010-11 RPI rank in parentheses:
Kansas State (23)*
Oklahoma State (61)
Rhode Island (101)
St. Bonaventure (122)
The Citadel (294)
Eastern Michigan (324)
* made NCAA tournament.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun