Virginia faithful resigned to Selection Sunday disappointment may find some comfort in tournament committee chairman Mike Bobinski’s most recent public remarks.
“Key criteria for the committee is what is has been for some time,” Bobinski said during a Wednesday conference call with reporters. “What quality teams were they able to beat? Were they able to beat on the road quality opponents? Were they at full health and strength when they played? How they played against other teams in the field?”
The Cavaliers (21-11) may well be NIT-bound after their dismal performance in Friday’s 75-56 ACC tournament loss to North Carolina State. But overall, they fare well by Bobinski’s metrics.
Virginia defeated certain NCAA selections in Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wisconsin, the latter on the road. The Cavaliers are a sterling 8-4 against teams among the top 100 on the Rating Percentage Index, but also lost to seven teams below 100th, more than any other tournament contender.
“As I sit here, this is just me as a single committee member with no more voting weight than anybody else, I would tell you that the ability to beat good teams is … probably a clear indication of your deservedness to be in the tournament,” Bobinski said. “If you can beat teams that are generally accepted and evaluated to be among the best in the country, that says something about who you are.
“Losing to good teams or bad teams is part of it. But I think for me, one of the real hallmarks is, have you shown that you can play, play successfully, at a very high level? That to me weighs a little bit heavier than the loss side of it.”
Virginia’s non-conference strength-of-schedule, No. 303 among 347 Division I teams, is another potential deal-breaker.
“We as a committee have been on record now for some time encouraging people to play stronger non-conference strength of schedules,” said Bobinski, the athletic director at Xavier and soon-to-be AD at Georgia Tech. “The reality of that is, if you don't, it doesn't eliminate you from the field. It doesn't prevent you from getting in the tournament.
“(But) it shrinks your margin for error. If you don't challenge yourself significantly in the non-conference portion of the schedule, what you have to do is show us during the January and February period of the year you are clearly a team that deserves selection to the field or deserves to be seeded in a favorable spot. You've given us less evidence, less opportunities to evaluate you.”
For the third consecutive year, the NCAA field includes 31 automatic qualifiers and 37 at-large selections. At least three teams from Virginia will make the bracket: Colonial Athletic Association champion James Madison, Big South champ Liberty and VCU of the Atlantic 10.
Miami, Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State are sure ACC selections. Future ACC members Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville also will make the field, comprising half of the Big East’s expected eight bids.
Miami, Duke, Louisville, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas and Gonzaga are among the teams vying for the four No. 1 regional seeds. At least one ACC team has been a top regional seed 14 of the last 15 years, the exception 2003.
Duke dropped its ACC tournament opener, to Maryland, but is 18-1 with Ryan Kelly in the lineup and have played the nation’s toughest schedule.
As usual, most of the 37 at-large selections are apparent. But teams such as Virginia, Boise State, LaSalle, Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Saint Mary’s anxiously await their fates.
“At the end of the at¿large field, it always gets sticky,” Bobinski said. “There is always a next team or a few next teams that are going to go to get a lot of consideration and conversation.”
Might the rash of hideous new uniforms damage some teams’ chances?
“If you're asking me,” Bobinski said with a laugh, “the answer is yes.”
More than 5,000 games have been contested, and less than 10 remain before the NCAA tournament selection committee reveals its 68-team bracket Sunday night. Here’s one semi-learned projection of the field.
This has long been an annual exercise, and only once, in 2002, did I correctly forecast every at-large selection. But in each of the last three seasons, I’ve missed just one. Last year’s surprise was Iona instead of Seton Hall.
Virginia was the hardest case, but the Cavaliers' close was too tepid for inclusion. But I wouldn't be shocked to see the committee disagree.
The field, by seeds:
1: Louisville, Kansas, Indiana, Duke.
2: Gonzaga, Georgetown, Miami, Michigan State.
3: Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio State.
4: Marquette, Kansas State, Syracuse, UCLA.
5: Wisconsin, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State.
6: Arizona, VCU, UNLV, Butler.
7: North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Creighton.
8: Missouri, Memphis, Oregon, Colorado State.
9: Minnesota, San Diego State, Illinois, Oklahoma.
10: Cincinnati, Colorado, Iowa State, Temple.
11: Wichita State, Saint Mary’s, California, Boise State.
12: Belmont, Bucknell, LaSalle-Mississippi play-in winner, Villanova-Middle Tennessee play-in winner.
13: Davidson, Valparaiso, Northwestern State, Akron.
14: Harvard, Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota State, New Mexico State.
15: Iona, Albany, Montana, Pacific.
16: North Carolina A&T-Liberty play-in winner, Long Island-Southern play-in winner, James Madison, Western Kentucky.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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