2007-08 MBB Preview: Schedule Analysis

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Coach Dave Leitao will try to guide his team to another NCAA Tournament bid.

In college football, figuring out who receives a postseason bowl invitation is pretty straight forward. Teams with at least a 6-6 record are eligible and most conferences have bowl tie-ins, meaning only a handful of destinations are likely.

College basketball on the other hand? Now that’s a different story.

Teams making postseason play are selected by committees and assigned opponents in unknown locations. Many components – strength of schedule, RPI, and record for example – are factored in to the decisions. Only 31 conference champions are locked in for the 65-team NCAA Tournament field, the holy grail of college hoops. The remaining 34 teams are selected at-large.

As you would guess, predicting who those 65 teams will be in the preseason is not an easy exercise. Yes, there are lots of bracketologists out there, but who knows how it will all play out? You can, however, easily forecast what sort of qualifications will be necessary to make the cut and you can predict the most likely way to earn the necessary credentials for an NCAA bid.

Obviously, there are many, many combinations of wins that could send a team dancing in March. Ultimately, however, a team usually needs at least 16 wins to even reach the NCAA Tournament bubble and that would be a precarious position unless several of the W’s came against marquee opponents. The “likely in” number sits between 18 and 22 wins, again depending on how the victories stack up and how other teams performed. For most major conference teams, if you surpass the 22-win mark, you’re safely in the field. Of course, the selection committee takes other things into consideration that can’t be known currently – your record in the final 10 games, injuries, conference strength, schedule strength, RPI, and so on.

The Sabre’s preseason schedule analysis is your handy guide to track Virginia’s progress toward a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. UVa’s out-of-conference schedule once again