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Hokies Will Start Off Tournament In Very 1st 12:15 Game

Well, that’s cool.

Virginia Tech found out a few moments ago when the Hokies will take the court in the NCAA Tournament, and it turns out they will play in the very first game on Friday in a 12:15 pm game on CBS at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler campus. The No. 10 seed Hokies face No. 7 Florida.

The announcers will be the network’s “A” team, with Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson.

This tends to be the most watched game of the first day since it’s the very first, so the Hokies will get great exposure across the country. It’s also a nice surprise because historically, Virginia Tech has a way of ending up in 9:55 PM games on the other side of the country when it’s really tough to watch.

Virginia will play its first game Saturday night at 7 PM in Assembly Hall on the Indiana campus in Bloomington. That game will be aired on TruTV.

For a complete listing of television times for all games, click here

If the building where the Hokies will play looks familiar when you see it on TV Friday, Hinkle Fieldhouse is where the movie "Hoosiers" was filmed, and was the same building that hosted the 1954 Indiana state championship game where Milan won the state title on Bobby Plump's game-winner. Hoosiers is loosely based on that game.

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Virginia In West, Plays Ohio; Hokies In South, Face Florida

The pairings for the NCAA Tournament were just announced, with Virginia Tech dropping to a 10th seed in the South Region and will face No. 7 seed Florida. Virginia's COVID issues in the ACC Tournament did not affect their ability to play in the NCAAs, and they enter the tournament as a 4th seed in the West Region and will open with No. 13 Ohio.

Should the Hokies get past Florida, they would then have to play the winner of Ohio State-Oral Roberts, which more than likely will be the No. 2 Buckeyes. Baylor is the top seed in the South. Technically, since there was no tournament last year, this is the fourth straight year the Hokies have made the NCAA's. The No. 10 seed, however, is the lowest Virginia Tech has ever received. 

The committee seems to want a rematch of Virginia and Gonzaga, as they are both in the West. The Cavaliers would face the winner of Creighton-UCSB in the second round should they advance. Gonzaga is the top seed in the West and the No. 1 seed in the entire tournament.

Florida had a ho-hum 14-9 season where they were only ranked for one week all season, coming in at No. 22 the first week of February. This came after an 85-80 win over then No. 11 West Virginia, but the Gators then lost their next two games to South Carolina and Arkansas respectively, and fell out of the rankings.

Virginia Tech, conversely, was only unranked one week in December, coming into the NCAA Tournament being ranked 12 consecutive weeks. But they will be the lower seed at No. 10.

Florida lost its last two regular-season games to Missouri and Tennessee, then beat Vanderbilt in the first round of the SEC Tournament before being eliminated by Tennessee.

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How It Started...How It's Going

If you weren't raised Italian, you may not be familiar with the tradition of making "Sunday Gravy."

It's a calculated plot to keep everyone inside the house, and should you have grown up and moved out on your own, is also a clever ploy to draw you back to the family on Sunday like a magnet.

The key ingredients (at least this Sunday) are three pounds of ground chuck, a pound of sweet Italian sausage, a few pieces of chicken (chicken thighs with the bone in have the best flavor after removing the skin and deboning them) and the usual collection of ingredients in any sauce: San Marzano tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, onions, fresh garlic, and anything green in the spice cabinet, including sweet basil, oregano, parsley, etc. 

I am fortunate to have an assistant chef, who by the mere change in her facial expression can communicate to you that you're going in the right direction. I cook the meats separately, then start a sauce by frying the garlic in olive oil, adding the onions, then squeezing the life out the San Marzano tomatoes by hand before adding the remainder of the ingredients. Large amounts of water are added, and the ingredients all simmer together for about 4 hours. By then, the flavors will have melded, the meat is tender, and the only thing left to decide is what type of pasta you want to pour it over.

I once got into a debate on social media about adding sugar or salt to the mixture, and the answer on salt is a hard no. The meats themselves bring a saltiness to the sauce, and you can always add more at the table if it is not to your liking. Over-season it, however, and you're like a deer licking a salt block. You're stuck with it, too, as I know way to reduce too much salt other than throw it out and start all over again.

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I'm Not Feeling It For This Year's NCAA Tournament

Today is usually one of the pinnacles of being a sports fan. Selection Sunday, the day we all get out our brackets, pencil in our usually misguided upset picks, and hope to be that person who walks around the office flexing their Nostradamus-like muscles while collecting proceeds of the workplace pool.

This year, I’m not feeling it.

To be fair, this past year of inhouse incarceration has left me not feeling it for a lot of things. But yesterday, my phone would have normally been filled with texts from my other sports maniac friends, asking if I had seen this result or that, wondering how that would affect seeds for the tournament, etc.

Instead, my phone was very quiet.

Twitter normally is filled with similar high traffic, but yesterday didn’t have a lot of basketball mentions either. Aside from Storm Murphy tweeting he was coming to Virginia Tech, there wasn’t a lot of other conversation about hoops except for specific comments about a person’s favorite team. My Georgetown friends had lots to say, for example. But that excitement about what was happening in college basketball on the last Saturday before the tournament didn’t seem there.

Part of it, I think, is a feeling that the tournament is going to end up with a winner that followed a path not considered altogether fair. Last night’s ACC Tournament, for example, pitted two teams who only played one game, then benefitted from byes and COVID cancellations to meet in the final. The basketball was good, but the slow building of tension across multiple games was not there.

I guess it’s hard to get excited about a march to a championship when the march only involves two steps.

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A Storm Is Coming To Virginia Tech

If Coach Mike Young were to draw up a wish list for components he would like to add to Virginia Tech’s basketball team next season, one undoubtedly would be a point guard who can shoot and score.

Tonight, he got one.

Storm Murphy, who played for Young at Wofford, will be reunited with his former coach, as he announced on Twitter he’s coming to Blacksburg.

Murphy tweeted “I’m excited to announce that next year I will be transferring to Virginia Tech and joining Coach Young for one last run,” barely a week after he announced he would be entering the transfer portal.

Murphy is a 6-foot, 180-pound guard from Middleton, Wisconsin, and there were some thoughts he may transfer to a school closer to home. But he quickly picked the Hokies, where he will be playing in a system he already knows, and for a team with a definite need for the things he can contribute.

Murphy averaged 17.8 points per game in the 2020-2021 season, along with 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds. He shot 47 percent from the floor for a Wofford team that went 15-9 and finished second in the Southern Conference behind UNC-Greensboro. He has played four years at Wofford, but as a graduate transfer, has a fifth year of eligibility which he will be able to use playing for the Hokies.

Murphy was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection in 2020-21, and finished fourth in the league in scoring. In his final game for Wofford in a 62-61 loss to Mercer in the Southern Conference tournament, Murphy had 21 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while playing 36 minutes.

Murphy scored 1,315 points in his four seasons at Wofford, had 469 assists, and started 119 of 126 games. He's a career 42% three-point shooter, and hit 85% of his career free throws.

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Tonight's Game 1st Time Since 1990 There's No NC Team

Tonight will be the championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, and one thing will be missing from the tradition-rich event.

A team from North Carolina.

With Georgia Tech playing Florida State in this COVID-affected tournament, it will mark the first time since 1996 that neither Duke nor North Carolina are in the championship game, and will also be the first time since 1990 that a team from the Tar Heel state is not in the event.

Oddly enough, Georgia Tech has involvement in all three games, and coming into tonight’s game, is 1-1 in ACC Tournament finals that don’t involve either Duke/North Carolina or any team from Tar Heel state.

In 1996, it was Wake Forest beating Ga. Tech 75-74 for the ACC Tournament title in Greensboro. Wake was led by big man Tim Duncan, along with double-figure scorers Tony Rutland and Rusty LaRue, while Georgia Tech had Stephon Marbury, Matt Harpring and Drew Barry as their leading scorers. Duncan was the tournament Most Valuable Player.

Six years before that in Charlotte, Georgia Tech won the tournament by a 70-61 margin over Virginia. Virginia was led by Bryant Stith, John Crotty, Kenny Turner and Anthony Oliver, while The Ramblin’ Wreck had three players who averaged over 20 points per game for the season: Dennis Scott, Brian Oliver, and Kenny Anderson. Oliver was named the tournament MVP.

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Hokies May Have Lost, But They Certainly Showed An Edge

This is one of those times where after watching a Virginia Tech basketball game, I don’t really know what to say.

Yeah, they lost to a North Carolina team with more height and a bigger number of talented bodies. Yeah, they ended up being that No. 3 seed who was one and done like everyone said they would be with an 81-73 loss to the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament.

But if you watched closely, they also did some things that really paint what could be a very bright future. Mike Young had a brilliant game plan to neutralize the big height advantage North Carolina had, and the Hokies ended up leading at halftime as they continued to play tough defense, slash the middle and run double back screens that got their big men open for layups.

But what impressed me the most was while doing so – at least until the team ran out of gas in the second half – was that Virginia Tech played with a noticeable edge. Mike Young has managed to find a number of components that he’s melded into a very good team, but if there’s been a concern, it’s that the team has played at times a little like the first part of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.”

For the majority of the season, they played – like Tina sings the first verse – nice…and easy. Too easy at times it seems, and big physical teams could knock them not only around, but also knock them mentally out of their game.

Against North Carolina, the Hokies were more like how Tina sings the second verse, where they do it nice…and rough. Virginia Tech played with an edge that I haven’t seen very often this season, as Justyn Mutts – who led all scorers with 24 points – had a breakout game and showed offensive skills that were equal parts aggression and nasty.

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With Duke Cancellation, FSU Now Gets Triple Bye

It wasn’t 24 hours ago that there was some hope Virginia Tech might get an easier draw in the ACC Tournament.

Notre Dame was facing North Carolina, and since the Irish had only lost by one point the last time the two teams plays, there was hope they could either upset the Tar Heels or at least wear them out. Instead, they went to sleep when it was only a 12-point game, UNC went on a 42-4 run, and Notre Dame turned to roadkill on the side of the highway leading to the ACC Championship.

The final was 101-59, but the second half wasn’t even that close. It’s rare these days to even see a team score over 100 points in the ACC Tournament (last time UNC did was 1993), and 42-4 runs are just about impossible unless half the team is injured and only four players can continue. The Tar Heels should now be comfortable and confident for tonight's game with Virginia Tech.

But now the road is even tougher.

Should the Hokies pull off the upset tonight (which would technically not be an upset since Virginia Tech is the No. 3 seed), they would then have to face a Florida State team receiving an unheard of triple bye. It was reported this morning that a Duke player received a positive COVID test, and because of that, the Blue Devils will forfeit their next-round game in the tournament against the Seminoles.

“The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today that the Duke vs. Florida State ACC men’s basketball tournament quarterfinal game has been canceled,” the ACC posted on its website. “The postponement follows a positive test, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Duke men’s basketball program.”

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Forget Who Let The Dogs Out?, Who Let The Dogs Edit?

It’s been about a month since Doug Doughty started contributing to the pages of DullesDistrict.Com, but I have failed to mention two other very important parts of the package.

All good writers have great editors, and I have mentioned frequently how blessed I am to have Maggie The WonderBeagle making sure all my “I’s” are dotted and all my “t’s” are crossed. Doug, for those who don’t know, has a similar support package.

Joining the site as associate editors are Henley and Harper, who have undertaken the enormous task of keeping Doug focused. I was, in fact, inquiring as to the status of this week’s college notebook when this picture was taken.

Harper, the senior member of the editing team, is laying near the arm of the sofa, and assured me Doug would not be leaving his seat until the writing was done, or until a treat was being retrieved.

Henley is the more active member of the editing duo, carefully reading over every word Doug writes and providing instant feedback on whether it’s approved or not.

So Henley and Harper, welcome to the Dulles District staff.

We want you on that wall.

We need you on that wall 😊

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Keep An Eye On ND-UNC Game If You're A Hokie Fan

Day One of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament was just about all you could hope for. There was one decent game, one snoozefest, and one furious finish with a buzzer beater that just might help Virginia Tech Thursday.

Miami beat Pitt 79-73 in the first game, which was good, but not great. It was like two fat men sumo wrestling in a vat of chocolate pudding in an empty arena. One would make a move, the other would slowly answer. That kept it close, so you kept watching, but this was not a tape that was going to replayed at coaching clinics.

Finally, one of the fat men got tired, didn’t get up out of the mud to answer, and Miami ended up winning. The Hurricanes will be facing a Clemson team today where the pudding should be thicker and the opponent a bit leaner and active.

The second game reminded me of the Tom Clancy novel “The Sum of All Fears,” as Duke put together a decent game, made a boat load of three pointers, and the pundits rejoiced for a team that was now one game over .500 this season. I turned on ESPN this morning, and the chyron on the bottom of the screen asks “can Duke run the gauntlet?”

Dear ESPN: Of course they can’t. They’d have to win 5 games in 5 days. The most they’ve won all season is 4 in a row over 9 days. What are you, drunk?

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If Duke's A 20-1 Favorite, Then I'm A Unicorn

Today it begins.

Three games in the ACC Tournament are on tap, with Pitt playing Miami at 2, it's Duke versus Boston College at 4:30, and Notre Dame against Wake Forest at 7:30. All three games are on the ACC Network, meaning a heck of a lot of basketball fans who get their cable television from Comcast won't be watching.

None of these games are very compelling, so I decided to take a look at the betting odds to see which ones may be closer than I think. In the the course of doing this, it became apparent as to which team to pull against.

Starts with a "D", ends with an "e." Likes the color blue.

According to BetMGM, and posted in a story today in the Athletic, Virginia is the top favorite at 5-2. The Cavaliers should be, as they are the top seed and until someone tells me otherwise, have the last national championship trophy awarded sitting somewhere inside John Paul Jones Arena. Florida State is barely behind the Cavaliers at 11-4, and that’s understandable too, since they led the league down the stretch, and hammered Virginia in the last game between the two teams before laying an egg the size of Plymouth Rock against Notre Dame in the regular-season finale.

Virginia Tech and Louisville are both 7-1 favorites, and that seems fair too, considering how they finished the season.

But then you scroll down to Duke. They are 20-1 favorites.

Excuse me sir, you must be new here. You’re playing in the first-round play-in games on a Tuesday. You finished in 10th place in a 15-team league. Your odds should be 1000 to 1, as no one wins 5 games in 5 days in a tournament. Plus it’s not like Duke didn’t earn that appearance on day 1, either. Duke doesn’t even have a winning record, finishing the regular season at 11-11. The Blue Devils lost their last three games in a row to finish the regular slate, including a 91-73 thrashing at the hands of North Carolina.

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