One month after Virginia Tech became the ACC's first team to win 10 conference games and still miss the NCAA tournament, coach Seth Greenberg is already hard at work making sure next year's non-conference schedule packs a little more punch.
On the one hand, Greenberg doesn't want to jeopardize his team's NCAA tournament hopes again because of a lack of schedule strength. On the other hand, he doesn't want to overreact by adding a flurry of marquee opponents and then find out next year's team isn't good enough to handle it.
"We're trying to strike the right balance," Greenberg said by phone on Monday. "Our schedule next year is going to be more difficult. We're looking at a number of high profile games, but it's a scary deal because you don't know what the personnel of your team is going to be. Everyone thinks we're going to be good, but we don't know what we'll have just yet."
Many expect the Hokies to be the ACC's second-best team next year because they could return every significant player from last year's 25-win team, but their outlook depends on the presence of star guard Malcolm Delaney and highly touted transfer Allan Chaney. Chaney fainted during a workout last week and continues to undergo tests on his heart, while Delaney declared for the NBA draft and remains undecided whether to leave school or not, according to Greenberg.
Although Greenberg would not identify which marquee opponents he has contacted, he insists the Hokies are looking at adding a couple of high-profile made-for-TV games to their 2010-11 schedule. High expectations entering next season will likely land them a big-name opponent in the annual ACC-Big Ten challenge, plus they're already committed to playing in the 76 Classic in Anaheim, which features the likes of Oklahoma State, Stanford, UNLV and Murray State among others.
"It's an inexact science," Greenberg said. "You want to give yourself the best chance to make the NCAA tournament, but we felt like we did that last year. We still lost only one non-conference game and won 10 games in the ACC. When you do that, you'd like to think you'll get rewarded."
Greenberg still bristles at the selection committee's decision to leave a 23-8 Virginia Tech team out of the NCAA tournament last season because of a non-conference schedule ranked among the nation's worst.
Wins over Penn State and Iowa didn't amount to what Greenberg expected, splitting with Seton Hall and Temple didn't give the Hokies the bump they needed and many of the lower-tier teams on the schedule sank all the way to the bottom 50 in the RPI.
"I think the criticism was unfair, but you can spin it any way you want it," Greenberg said. "We were unfortunate that the lower end of our schedule did not perform so that brought down the strength of schedule. We didn't expect them all to be great teams but we didn't expect them to be in the 300s either."