Most 25-1 ACC teams would be pretty comfortable with their chances of ending up on the top line of the NCAA Tournament bracket come Selection Sunday. But the loss of Justin Anderson, and its subsequent effect on offensive efficiency, has put some doubt in the minds of cynical Wahoo fans. Especially because of the Committee's mysterious treatment of teams who have been affected by injuries.
Luckily, the Committee's treatment of these issues apparently isn't that mysterious. SBNation's resident Bracketologist, Chris Dobbertean of Blogging The Bracket, explains how the Committee would treat news that Justin Anderson would return for the Big Dance, as expected:
Every season, the Selection Committee says they evaluate teams based on who is available, and last year, they made an even bigger attempt to press that.
With that in mind, I would think Virginia would be in great shape should the Committee hear that Justin Anderson will be back in time for the Tournament. In theory, the Committee would look at any losses that the Cavaliers suffer without him and take that into consideration in terms of seeding. That's not a guarantee that Virginia won't get passed, as these decisions don't happen in a vacuum, but nothing crazy should happen either.
I'm using similar logic in placing Wisconsin on the top line over Gonzaga and Villanova. Between losing to Duke on December 3rd and falling at Maryland last night, the Badgers dropped only one other game, that five-point loss to Rutgers on January 11th. If Wisconsin had its full complement of players, that defeat would be a red flag, but they were missing Frank Kaminsky due to a concussion and Traevon Jackson broke his foot during the game. If both had been available, it's highly likely the Badgers would have won going away. Jackson's continued absence into last night, coupled with reports that he'll return soon, also means that it's not automatic that I'd drop the Badgers down to the two line based on last night's loss.
Those are the types of things the Committee is supposed to evaluate when considering injuries and roster shape.
Resume-wise, UVA is in great shape. Per ESPN, the Hoos have the second-best RPI in the nation, are 8-1 against the RPI Top 50, played the 27th-ranked non-conference schedule in the nation, and are 6-0 in road games against likely or possible NCAA Tournament teams. These are factors that the Selection Committee loves to emphasize. And currently, Virginia is a near-unanimous #1 seed, where they should be, on BracketMatrix.com.
With 3 of their last 4 games on the road and then the ACC Tournament, most of which will be without Anderson, avoiding another loss will be a tall task. Villanova, Duke, Gonzaga, and Arizona are coming on strong. But, even if UVA loses a game or two, none will be able to match the Hoos in resume terms; and, if the Committee follows its protocol, any potential Virginia losses should be deweighted.
I'd guess that the Hoos easily hold on to the 1-spot if they win the ACC Tourney, and are just fine even if they drop another regular season game and don't repeat in Greensboro. I'd only be concerned if the team adds 3 more losses to end the year. What say you guys? How does Virginia remain slotted into their second consecutive #1 NCAA seed?