Bracketology: NCAA Bid Case for Virginia Tech vs. Southern Cal

Doug Upstone

Monday, February 19, 2018 4:26 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 4:26 PM UTC

It is less than three weeks to Selection Sunday and, as we saw this past week, the pressure is mounting on teams from coast to coast. Many are struggling at the wrong time of the year.

College Basketball Bracketology

In a season full of chaos, Virginia Tech and USC are trying to rise above it and get into the field of 68, but opinions vary on them. ESPN's Joe Lunardi does not have either club dancing, just close, looking in the window from the outside. Conversely, CBS expert Jerry Palm has the Trojans as a No. 11 seed and the Hokies rather comfortably in as a No. 9 seed.

Also, if you look at RPI rating and compare them to KenPom.com, they are the opposite. While the Men of Troy are 12 spots higher than Virginia Tech, KenPom.com has the Hokies 34th and USC down to 52nd.

With both teams having loaded remaining schedules plus their conference tournament, anything is possible. Let's break it down.

Virginia Tech

Conference: ACC (second according to Sagarin Ratings)

Record: 19-8 SU (14-9 ATS)

Current RPI: 54

Best wins: North Carolina and @Virginia

Worst loss: St. Louis

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 35,000-to-1 (5Dimes)

NCAA Tournament history: 6-9

Key games remaining: All - Clemson, Louisville, Duke and @Miami

Sportsbooks see Virginia Tech less capable of doing as much damage as USC. However, getting into the tournament might be less problematic, given they have more impressive big wins and fewer noticeable losses.

Virginia Tech has a nasty remaining schedule, which could work for or against them. If they finish 3-1, that would really help their case, and coach Buzz Williams' club is 12-3 (7-4 ATS) in Blacksburg. And if two of those wins are against Clemson and Louisville, the Hokies would have a chance to climb to a fourth-seed in the ACC, which would help their cause overall.

The Techsters are a team built to play fast and average 82.3 PPG, with five scorers in double digits. In spite of lacking size, Virginia Tech still controls its fate.

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USC

Conference: Pac-12 (sixth)

Record: 19-9 SU (16-11-1 ATS)

Current RPI: 42

Best Wins: Nothing remarkable

Worst losses: Princeton, SMU, Texas A&M (the last two look worse now)

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 20,000-to-1 (5Dimes)

NCAA Tournament history: 14-20

Key games remaining: All - @Colorado, @Utah and UCLA

USC's tournament future is dicer than Virginia Tech's for a number of reasons. It begins with playing in a weaker league, and though they could earn a No. 2 seed in the Pac-12, they have largely won and lost who they were expected to. The Trojans' losses to SMU and Texas A&M will hurt them more if the committee members view these teams based on their records, not how good these squads were at the time.

USC will play the remainder of their season without second-leading scorer Bennie Boatwright because of a knee injury. While this is certainly not good news for coach Andy Enfield's club, they know they can win without the versatile junior big man, as he has missed five games completely and played 19 or fewer minutes in three others.

The Men of Troy are 4-5 (5-4 ATS) on the road, and winning their remaining games should punch their ticket. But that weekend trip to Boulder and Salt Lake City is never easy.

Who Has Stronger Case and Who Gets In?

In trying to make a forecast for your college basketball picks regarding who gets in, it really does come down to how both teams finish the regular season.

If Virginia Tech has a 2 -2 record or worse and is eliminated in the first game of ACC tourney, they are in serious trouble. If USC losses both road games but beats UCLA, that might not be enough to beat the college basketball odds unless they are playing for the Pac-12 championship.

By the slimmest of margins, I will side with the Trojans, only because their path is somewhat easier.

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