Bypassing Virginia Tech is indefensible

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Virginia Tech's previous NCAA tournament snubs were debatable. Sunday's was outrageous.

UAB and Clemson instead of the Hokies? Please.

The 10 selection committee members are supposed to know basketball. They're athletic directors and conference commissioners, and some are former players and coaches.

But collectively this bunch, chaired by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, he of the brewing football scandal, brain-cramped when bypassing Tech for the expanded, 68-team field.

"Robbed, no excuse," ESPN analyst and former Duke forward Jay Bilas texted me.

"You almost wonder if someone in that room doesn't have an agenda, and that agenda doesn't include Virginia Tech," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg told reporters in Blacksburg after a fourth consecutive Selection Sunday dagger.

Yes, you wonder.

Go ahead, call me a homer and/or Greenberg groupie. Go ahead, mention the Hokies' unsightly losses to Virginia (two) and Georgia Tech.

I saw those games, but I also saw Tech beat Duke, sweep Florida State and trade haymakers in an overtime loss to Purdue.

Granted, the Hokies (21-11) lost their only encounter with Clemson 69-60, on the road in the regular-season finale. But the Tigers have zero wins against teams among the Rating Percentage Index's top 50, which if not a first for an at-large selection, is rare, indeed.

Clemson's other pertinent numbers: 9-8 versus the top 100, 15-11 against the top 200, a No. 195 non-conference strength of schedule -- this according to CollegeRPI.com.

Virginia Tech's: 2-5 against the top 50 (Duke and Big Ten tournament finalist Penn State), 8-8 versus the top 100, 13-11 against the top 200 with a non-league schedule rating of 152.

Please don't misunderstand. Clemson belongs in the field, its 49-47 eyesore of a loss at Virginia notwithstanding. The Tigers showed themselves NCAA-caliber in Saturday's ACC tournament semifinal against North Carolina, a game they led throughout before losing in overtime.

But Clemson (21-11) instead of Virginia Tech doesn't compute.

No matter committee rules that prohibit members from voting on teams they're affiliated with, Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman should have made sure his fellow panelists didn't make that mistake.

The biggest mistake is Conference USA regular-season champion UAB, which faces Clemson in an opening-round game.

The Blazers' sole top-50 victory is over No. 49 VCU. They lost at Duke by 21. Their non-conference schedule is rated lower than Virginia Tech's.

Had UAB (22-8) performed well in Conference USA's tournament, perhaps you could make the case. But the Blazers lost to East Carolina in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech acquitted itself well at the ACC tournament, dusting Georgia Tech and defeating Florida State before running out of gas against Duke in Saturday's semifinals.

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