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The NCAA Tournament: Is FSU on the Safe Side of the Bubble?

The Seminoles, with a big win against Miami, reached 10 ACC wins for third straight year and still have two regular season games left to play. But have they done enough to make the NCAA Tournament, or do they still have work to do? Another FSU site is recommending to the fan base that they should feel safe that the Noles have done enough, but I’m not so sure.

On the positive side, only three times in the past decade has an ACC team finished with a winning record in conference play and been left out of the tourney. And last year was the first time ever that a 10 win ACC club failed to receive an invite (V Tech). That Virginia Tech team finished the year with an RPI of 58, strength of schedule of 133, and without a win against an RPI Top-25 club. This year’s FSU team has an RPI of 48, SOS of 88 and a win against Duke which is ranked #5 in the RPI. There will also be three more at-large teams this year. Since nearly everyone considers the Hokies the 1st team out of last year’s tourney (meaning they would have been in this year) I can see why the other FSU site recommends feeling safe. But there’s a major difference this year for FSU, which is that Chris Singleton is finishing the season in street clothes. The tournament has a history of punishing teams which lose their star player, and were we to finish 2-3 down the stretch without him than it’s likely the committee would weigh that portion of the season much more heavily than the rest. Their reasoning is this: imagine we were good enough to be a 9 seed. If they were to give us that 9 seed without a healthy Singleton then in their eyes we wouldn’t be capable of playing like a 9 seed. So they’d slide us down, and probably out. But that’s merely opinion as there’s no concrete way to predict how the committee will react. Just assume the worst.

One thing that can be predicted is the numbers. With UNC and NCST left on the schedule our SOS will remain in the upper 80s. If we beat either of those teams than our RPI will finish higher than it is now, and we’ll be a lock for the tourney. If we lose both our expected RPI would be 58, or exactly what Virginia Tech’s was when they were left out. We’d have a better SOS and a key win against Duke, but would still have to deal with the Singleton penalty. So then it would come down to the ACC Tournament. The worst scenario would be to somehow end up playing our first game against Wake Forest, as win or lose our 58 RPI would drop further. Wins over Virginia or Georgia Tech wouldn’t be of much help either. But a win over anyone else would improve our RPI, and by my prediction, put us into the tourney.

So even if we lose the next two, we’re still in as long as we win one ACC Tournament game, assuming it’s not against Wake, GT or Virginia. Or maybe I’m wrong and we’re already in. Selection Sunday is 12 days away.