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2008
10
Mar

In and Out

In and Out 03/10/08

It took fourteen weeks and thirty-plus games for most teams, but the primary goal of the basketball regular basketball season has been accomplished: seedings have been determined for the conference tournaments. Well, there has been a little more.

The least meaningful of all sports regular seasons finally lurched to an end Sunday night amid another for-the-ages performance by for-the-ages Hoo guard Sean Singletary and the incessant babbling by the talking heads about who is out and who is in.

Watching Singletary’s excellence was certainly preferable to the ESPN prattlers and pondering how things might have been for him had Fallback Dave actually been able to surround him with anything remotely resembling a decent team trumped thinking about how a playoff has managed to devalue what should be an exciting regular season into endless and inane chatter concerning ‘who is in’ as opposed to ‘who is out.’

One team that does not appear to be ‘in’ is Virginia Tech. The Hokies traveled to Clemson Sunday looking for a win that the bracketologists claimed would cement Tech’s status among the ‘ins.’

Tech found itself a classic ‘bubble team’ due to having amassed a 9-6 ACC record despite not achieving a single so-called ‘quality’ win.

While this might have been considered impossible in a league supposedly as tough as the ACC, that does not take into account the league’s post-expansion unbalanced scheduling format that gave the Hokies the league’s easiest and the fact that the ACC’s lofty RPI ranking rests solely on the prowess of two teams. Neither dark nor light blue are among Tech’s colors.

Tech needed to beat Clemson and did not. Tech came close, looking to have seized both the game and an NCAA bid with three minutes left. The Hokies then fell apart with a flurry of turnovers and missed free throws, finally grasping defeat from the jaws of victory with an ill-advised and obvious reach in by AD Vassallo that the officials had little choice but to call.

The ACC’s worst free-throw shooting team then sank two to win the game, sending Tech to what will likely be NIT oblivion and message board loons to the classic loser’s lament of whining about the officiating.

Yep, costing the ACC a bunch of money by reducing the number of league participants in the NCAA Tournament was all part of Little Johnny’s master plan to screw Tech. Retreating into the victimization of vast conspiracies was certainly a simpler way for simpler minds to deal with a tough loss than acknowledging that one’s team blew the game through poor late play.

Leading the charge and setting the tone for the message board loons was none other than Tech’s flamboyant and volatile coach Seth Greenberg. The coach who often has trouble controlling his emotions at game’s end did not congratulate winning coach Oliver Purnell, instead losing control and charging official Jerry Heater.

While it is unlikely this latest ‘Seth Moment’ enabled the Tech coach to find out the date of the birthday of Heater’s wife, it will probably earn him a reprimand from Little Johnny, who must be getting very weary of dealing with problems caused by Tech’s on-the-edge basketball program. One would have thought that this Tech basketball team would have learned its lesson about screwing with the officials, but that seems difficult when the head coach either hasn’t learned it or can’t control himself.

Tech was joined on the wrong end of bracketology in and out later Sunday by Maryland. The Terps demonstrated that they have figured out that the key to avoiding the late-game blowing of a big lead is not to get that lead in the first place. This time, when Maryland fell apart late in the game, the result was not a tough close loss but an embarrassing fifteen-point one.

Sean Singletary is indeed a great player and had a fitting end to a terrific career, he is playing for a very mediocre team that rarely beats anybody not named Fredo by double-digits. This was as much about Maryland’s lousy play as it was about the Hoos’ sudden dubious status as world-beaters, although if you are contemplating hoo might surprise in Charlotte this weekend, the Hoos are now playing about as well as their talent-challenged roster will allow them. Gary Williams has taken his program a long way from the glory days of Final Four appearances and ACC and even NCAA championships. Have at him, terraloons.

By the time all of the dust had settled Sunday night, the ACC had ended up on the latter end of the old in and out. Tech and Maryland had played their way out of easy NCAA choices. Both will need a miraculous and unlikely run in this weeks’ ACC Tournament to gain inclusion into the one that immediately follows.

As of now, the only safe ACC bets for the NCAA field are four teams, the obvious ones of Carolina, Duke, Clemson and Miami, which, despite its 8-8 league mark, actually can point to some pretty good wins. That will carry much more weight with the NCAA Selection Committee than a 9-7 mark with no big wins. Four teams might not seem a lot for the country’s #1 RPI league, but that’s what happens when two teams spend Sunday getting outed.

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