Getting right down to brass tacks, I think it's very unlikely UVA misses the tournament. We aren't in great shape, but wins over Loyola, Hopkins, and fast-rising Syracuse make for a fairly secure bid - even though my system has us sitting precariously close to the bubble.
I'm also thinking that it's unlikely we host a first-round game. Denver and Cornell, the last hosts in this week's edition, are pretty far up there. Cornell is kind of in free-fall at the moment, working on a three-game losing streak, but Loyola would be first in line to host, I'm thinking, if one of the top eight falls.
Here's where we round it back to good news: So many ACC teams are in line for hosting duties that the options for our destination are fairly limited. The committee will create rematches if they have to, so they're not averse to making us play Cornell or Hopkins, but the ACC is a real conference now in their eyes and therefore immune to playing each other in the first round. Right now two of the six seeds 3-8 are ACC teams, so there's only four places we can go, and it'll likely stay that way - unless it becomes three of six.
The last spot is interesting right now. The math gives Princeton a slight edge over Yale, and in looking at common opponents both are 3-1 (both beat Lehigh and Dartmouth; Yale beat Brown and lost to Penn while Princeton did the opposite.) Princeton has the SOS while Yale has the RPI, and Princeton has a slightly stronger full slate of wins. Hofstra is turning into a big win for them, while Yale lacks a strong OOC win (the Flying Dutchmen are in on autobid this week but also reasonably comfortable in at-large consideration.) So I'm not strongly attached to Yale over the Tigers right now; that said, Yale did actually beat Princeton, which is a healthy tiebreaker.
The gap between them and Fairfield, though, is wide; this is partly why I say UVA is in good shape for a bid. There aren't many threats to pull the rug out from underneath.
Last week's games to watch:
Syracuse 14, Cornell 9: The Cuse had just a monster week. Cornell had a rotten one.
Duke 17, Virginia 15: It's interesting - except for Notre Dame, which was just inexplicable, the Hoos haven't been out of any of their games this year.
Yale 7, Brown 6: The second tier of the Ivy League came really close to turning the whole league upside down.
Air Force 16, Fairfield 8: The thin air must've gotten to them. Whatever the reason, Fairfield really hosed themselves good. Not only did they essentially guarantee that they need the autobid now, the ECAC tournament is going to have three basically even teams and one bad one - and Fairfield blew their chance to play the bad one.
Hofstra 10, Cornell 9: This is what I mean about a bad week. Also, this game made it close to impossible to avoid rematches in this week's edition, and as you can tell, I didn't much try. Hofstra is now in remarkably good shape.
Penn 8, Harvard 7: See Yale-Brown. Both games went to OT.
Johns Hopkins 11, Maryland 6: Quite a surprise, I thought, but hey: Cuse and Hopkins scoring upsets is nothing but good for UVA.
Syracuse 11, North Carolina 10: Big week for the Orange continues. They now have the top RPI in the country and are closing to shooting distance of the #1 seed. Duke still has a nice tight grip, but it's not unassailable.
This week's games that matter:
Brown at Cornell: What can Brown do to you? The Bears are no more a threat to win an at-large bit than VMI is, but they're why Princeton isn't in the field right now and they've come close to torpedoing a few other teams too. With Cornell on a big losing streak, it could be interesting.
Maryland at Notre Dame: The ACC field is set and Notre Dame is in. (
Princeton at Harvard: Probably a must-win for Princeton in order to stay in contention; they can't afford to miss the Ivy tournament and they probably will if they lose this one.
Air Force at Ohio State: The ECAC is setting up to be a fun ride. If Air Force wins here they'll have a very, very inside track to the championship, because they'll get Michigan in the first round of the conference tournament, while Fairfield and OSU battle it out. If Air Force loses, it opens the door to a potential triangle of doom, which would require goal differential to untangle.