The official NCAA Tournament brackets are now available and 68 teams have been selected. Eight teams will play in the first round starting on Tuesday and Wednesday with the majority beginning Thursday and Friday. From now until then, let the talk begin of which teams were snubbed and who was worthy of a selection but rejected by the almighty Tournament Committee.
Two names who make the early list of quality teams left out belong to the same conference in the ACC. Both Maryland and Virginia find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the 2013 NCAA Tournament and will likely find a spot in the NIT this postseason. To breakdown these two teams, lets first place them in a group of teams that did make the tournament to compare them to. The last four teams selected in this years field of 68 are La Salle, Boise State, Middle Tennessee, and Saint Mary’s(all of which are outside of a power six conference).
For Maryland, the win over Duke in the ACC Tournament was just too little, too late. The Terrapins finished the season 22-12 overall and finished 7th during the regular season with an 8-10 record in conference . Their overall strength of schedule ranked 91st in the nation and though they were 12-1 overall against non-conference opponents, their strength of schedule in that area ranked a miserable 305 out of 347. If you combine the lack of a schedule out of conference with losses on the road to Georgia Tech and Boston College in February, Maryland came into the ACC Tournament needing to win. When it comes down to it, the Terps really had just two big wins on the season, one coming against NC State when the Wolfpack was ranked #14, and the other came over Duke just a few days ago in the ACC tourney. Compared to the last four in, the thing Maryland does not have in common with them is winning the games they should and need to on the road and at home this season.
Virginia on the other hand, when you look at their resume and overall season, should have been one of the last four in. Middle Tennessee had just one win on the season over a team ranked inside the top 100 RPI (strength of schedule), while the Cavaliers had six. Virginia finished the season 5th in the ACC at11-7 in conference and a record of 21-11 overall. Each team in conference that finished ahead of the Cavaliers was selected to the group of 68. Strong positives that should have pushed Virginia over the hump, you would think came with big non-conference wins at Wisconsin and at home over Tennessee. You could also include conference wins over UNC, Duke, and NC State in the reasons to be selected category. Yet, with all that said, Virginia did lose some games that should have been won against inferior opponents like Delaware, Wake Forest, Clemson, and Old Dominion. The Cavaliers non-conference schedule ranked just two spots ahead of Maryland at 303. Not a good ranking at all even if they did finish 10-3 outside of the ACC.
Overall, both Maryland and Virginia finished this season with over 20 total victories and played well enough to be considered to the NCAA Tournament even though they did not make it. Each of the two teams will get some post season action when they play Tuesday March 19th to open the NIT Tournament. The Cavaliers will host Norfolk State(21-11) and Maryland will play host to Niagara(19-13).