Believe it or not, an at-large selection is still a theoretical possibility. Whether or not the inconsistent Seminoles can finally put it all together for 5 or 6 games in a row is another conversation, but the wins are there for the taking.
On January 23rd, I wrote this article about what FSU needed to do in order to go dancing. If you’ll recall, an 11-7 ACC record is the general consensus for what FSU needs to be on the right side of the bubble, with 10-8 requiring some work in the ACC Tourney. In that piece, we broke the games down into 3 categories: “Gotta Haves,” “Like to Haves,” and “Need to Steal One.”
Well, while the performance certainly left something to be desired, the game at Wake Forest was NOT one of the “Gotta Haves” needed to get to 11 wins. In fact, FSU has played two games from that must have category since that date—at home against Clemson and on the road against Georgia Tech—and won both thanks to last minute heroics by Snaer. Additionally, FSU has already won a “Like to Have” game from the list when they Snaer’d Maryland at home.
Unfortunately, what the loss to Wake did do was reduce the margin for error going forward. While @Wake was listed as a “Like to Have” game, it was one of the more winnable ones in that category. Not only does FSU need to continue winning the must have games, they now have only three more “like to have” games, with one of them being a TOUGH matchup with Miami tomorrow.
So what does FSU need for an at-large selection? I still think 11-7 and 1 win in the ACCT will get it done. FSU is currently 5-5, so 11-7 would mean wins over BC, @VT, Wake, and UVA for sure. Then they would have to get two wins out of the following four games: Miami, @NCSU, @UNC, NCSU. The latter two would seem to be the easiest route, but frankly anything more than 9 ACC wins looks to be quite a challenge at this point.
Technically, there is no longer a record requirement to be selected into the NIT, which consists of a field of 32 teams. However, since the rule changed in 2006, no team with less than a .500 record has been selected. Also, there are now automatic bids for any team who wins their regular season conference championship, loses in the conference tournament, and then is not selected for the NCAA Tourney. Said another way, 1 bid leagues that have a different regular season and tournament champ.
FSU plays 31 regular season games, but then at least one ACCT game, so in order to ensure a .500 record, the Noles need at least 16 wins. However, 17 would probably look a lot better. To get to 17 wins, FSU simply needs to win all of the must have games. If they drop one, AND fail to pull an upset from the other four games, the Noles would need a first-round ACCT victory.
This is for NIT rejects. Let’s talk about this if the possibility draws closer.
2/12 ACC Power Rankings:
I apologize for not getting them out last week. The Tuesday game threw me for a loop and by Friday I figured I would just wait for the Saturday results. The extra time, however, has allowed the top few teams to start to separate from the middle tier; and the middle tier to start to separate from the dregs.
1. Miami: 19-3, 10-0 (same) – It’s not remarkable that Miami is really good. That much was expected by anyone who follows the ACC closely. What is remarkable is how long they have managed to sustain their high level of play. Miami is the only major-conference team that is unbeaten in conference play, and they have already taken out the #2 team by 27. There are only two games left against the top five of the league…can Miami seriously run the table?
2. Duke: 21-2, 8-2 (same) – The Blue Devils trail Miami by two games, and only have one more shot at them. So they need the Canes to slip up somewhere AND have to avoid any more losses themselves. They get UNC at home tomorrow and then travel to Maryland, a team that always plays Duke tough.
3. UVA: 17-6, 7-3 (same) – Are the Wahoos playing surprisingly well? Yes. Are they probably a bit of a product of their schedule? Yes. UVA has played exactly ONE game against the rest of the current top 4 in the league—and will only play 4 out of 18 games against them in total—beating UNC at home back on January 6th. Tonight brings more of the same with cellar-dweller Virginia Tech visiting Charlottesville. However, the road could get bumpier after that, as the Cavs travel to UNC on Saturday, then head to Coral Gables a week from today. All three of Virginia’s ACC losses have come on the road.
4. NCSU: 17-7, 6-5 (same) – The Wolpack have stumbled a bit lately, losing three of their last four games after starting the year 16-4. However, all three losses are to the three teams ahead of them in this ranking and all three came without starting PG Lorenzo Brown—who is arguably the best PG in the conference when healthy. He came back in their last outing, and the Red and White got back to their winning ways with a one-point, last second win on the road against Clemson. Brown will get to rest his ankle some this week, as the Pack are off until Saturday when they face VT at home.
5. UNC: 16-7, 6-4 (same) – Technically, the Tar Heels are a half-game ahead of NCSU in the standing, but in reality this is where they should be. At this point, UNC is pretty much what we think they are: a solid team who might win a game in the NCAAT, but nothing more. They beat who they should—their six conference wins all come against the bottom 7 teams in the conference, and they haven’t dropped a game against the lower tier yet. But, they also have yet to beat any team in the top 5 of the standings, with their latest loss coming in blowout fashion against Miami. This week they play Duke tomorrow and then have the game against UVA. The latter should really tell us a lot more about both teams.
6. FSU: 13-10, 5-5 (up 1) – FSU has alternated blowout losses with buzzer-beater wins for 7 straight games now. This either makes them wildly inconsistent, or maybe remarkably consistent, depending on your viewpoint. At any rate, the Noles, who have played the toughest ACC schedule to date, don’t get any breathers with a visit from Miami tomorrow and a trip to NCSU next Tuesday sandwiched around a home game against a pesky BC team.
7. Maryland: 17-7, 5-6 (down 1) – Maryland falls a spot after getting swept by FSU two weeks ago. Aside from their buzzer-beating victory against NCSU, they are basically a less talented version of UNC. They beat the teams from the bottom-tier (other 4 wins are against VTx2, Wake, and BC) and lose to the teams from the middle and top tiers (6 losses are against FSUx2, Miami, UNC, Duke, and UVA). With UVA’s schedule they might be 7-4…but they don’t have UVA’s schedule. This week brings another game against Duke.
8. Georgia Tech: 13-9, 3-7 (up 3) – It’s getting harder and harder to rank the muddled mass that is the ACC’s bottom tier. (Not to mention harder to care to rank them). GT is the big winner this week, as they beat UVA, got Snaer’d by FSU, and then beat VT in their last three games. Clemson and Wake are next up for the Jackets.
9. Wake Forest: 11-12, 4-7 (up 1) – Give the Demon Deacons credit; you just don’t walk into Joel Coliseum and expect to come out with a victory. Wake’s destruction of FSU on Saturday gives them home victories over FSU, UVA, NCSU, and Xavier this season. Unfortunately, they have been terrible on the road, going 0-6 in ACC play. They get another shot at the elusive road conquest when they travel to Chestnut Hill tomorrow.
10. Clemson: 12-11, 4-7 (down 2) – After evening their ACC record at 4-4 two weeks ago, the Tigers have dropped three straight. They try hard, but I think they just have average talent. They pull the Thursday-Sunday duties this week, with a roadie at improving GT and then a home game against Miami.
11. Boston College: 10-13, 2-8 (up 1) – This team really is not as bad as their record indicates. Five of their eight conference losses have come by five points or less, including a one-point defeat to Duke on Sunday where they blew an 8 point lead with a minute or two left. But, such is life for a young team in the ACC. They get Wake at home tomorrow, and with the Demon Deacons’ noted struggles on the road, the opportunity is there for a win.
12. Virginia Tech: 11-12, 2-8 (down 3) – This is what happens when a team is gutted and they have no depth. Sensational guard Erick Green is doing everything he can, playing an astonishing 89% of the available minutes, but he simply has no help and the Hokies have lost six straight. Still, they are capable of playing well enough at home to sneak up and bite an unsuspecting visitor, so any team travelling to Blacksburg better put them away early.