In 2009-10, Virginia Tech suffered yet another snub at the hands of the NCAA tournament selection committee. It's no mystery why Virginia Tech didn't get in -- the Hokies had one of the worst nonconference schedule strengths in recent memory, a plus-300 slate so bad it didn't matter that Virginia Tech made a late conference push and won 10 games in the ACC. Coach Seth Greenberg was vocal in his complaints after the committee's decision, but Greenberg and the Hokies have no one to blame for the snub but themselves. That wasn't a tournament team's schedule.
Apparently, Greenberg and company have learned their lessons. Via The Dagger, the Virginia Tech coach is planning on strengthening his team's schedule to prevent a tournament snub, even if he's not exactly going to be playing Michigan State's slate any time soon:
On the one hand, Greenberg doesn't want to jeopardize his team's NCAA tournament hopes again because of a lack of schedule strength. On the other hand, he doesn't want to overreact by adding a flurry of marquee opponents and then find out next year's team isn't good enough to handle it.
"We're trying to strike the right balance," Greenberg said by phone on Monday. "Our schedule next year is going to be more difficult. We're looking at a number of high profile games, but it's a scary deal because you don't know what the personnel of your team is going to be. Everyone thinks we're going to be good, but we don't know what we'll have just yet."
"It's an inexact science," Greenberg said. "You want to give yourself the best chance to make the NCAA tournament, but we felt like we did that last year. We still lost only one non-conference game and won 10 games in the ACC. When you do that, you'd like to think you'll get rewarded."
It's true that many expect Virginia Tech to be better in 2010-11, but much of that improvement will have to do with ACC scoring leader Malcolm Delaney's NBA decision. Delaney declared for the draft but didn't hire an agent and is still undecided on coming back to school. If he does, the Hokies could be the ACC's second-best team, behind Duke.
It's also true that scheduling is an inexact science, and that you can't control how good your scheduled opponents are after the season begins. But Virginia Tech's 2009-10 nonconference schedule wasn't some perfect storm of disappointing teams. It was, so that we're clear, as follows: vs. Brown, vs. UNC Greensboro, at Campbell, vs. Temple (neutral floor), vs. Delaware (neutral floor), at Iowa, vs. Georgia, vs. Virginia Military, at Penn State, vs. Charleston Southern, vs. UMBC, vs. Longwood, vs. Seton Hall. I mean, that is awful. Not coincidentally awful, or aw-shucks-things-didn't-work-out awful. That was awful when it was scheduled and it is awful now.
It's a simple remedy: schedule tougher teams. This goes for every college coach who is trying to use that old back door tournament strategy of playing no one out of conference in order to inflate the team's year-end win total: It doesn't work anymore. The remedy is a tougher schedule. In the meantime, fewer lame excuses would be nice.