I swear that I’ve been here before. In fact, I know I have.
On Jan. 24 of last year, I penned a column booking the unofficial end of Virginia Tech’s basketball season. Virginia Tech had just lost to ACC doormat Boston College in the sleepy confines of Chestnut Hill and at 10-8 overall with just two ACC wins, the Hokies were dead in the water.
We know how that turned out.
But now that Virginia Tech is in a similar situation, do I feel differently about the Hokies’ ability to get this thing turned around?
Sadly, I do not.
The Hokies’ maddening defeat to Boston College — why is it always these guys? — on Wednesday night came at a crushing time. Fresh off an upset win over the top-10 Cavaliers, Virginia Tech should’ve rolled back into Cassell Coliseum and blown the doors off a Golden Eagles’ team that is still below .500 on the season.
Instead, Virginia Tech shot just 41.9 percent from the floor, 31.3 percent from behind the arc and missed seven free throws. Tech’s defense was just as subpar, as Boston College shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and made half of their three-pointers.
Wednesday was an all too familiar story for the Hokies. The consistency is just not there.
No one can argue the Hokies’ ceiling as a team. The win over Virginia and a December blowout of Dayton prove as much. But the floor is as low as the ceiling is high. I’ll spare you the evidence in favor of that claim as to save you more grief.
Even with Hunter Cattoor back in the lineup, the Hokies are not consistently good enough to win necessary basketball games to make the NCAA Tournament. Grant Basile’s offensive prowess is weighed down by his defensive struggles. Tech doesn’t really have a backup point guard, forcing Cattoor into a role he isn’t suited for. Darius Maddox has regressed in more ways than one and hasn’t played serious minutes since Jan. 21.
Oh, and the stud freshman that would’ve possibly fixed some of these issues, Rodney Rice, will finish the season with just 29 minutes played.
That’s not a recipe for sustained success. And given the overall weakness of the ACC, a 4-9 conference record means the Hokies are no longer under serious consideration for an at-large bid for the Madness of March.
I won’t sit here and tell you that it’s over, but I will tell you that it’ll take a miracle akin to last season if Virginia Tech is to secure another NCAA Tournament berth. This time around, there’s no confusion — it’ll take an ACC Tournament repeat.
Virginia Tech has seven games remaining. Running the table would make the Hokies 21-10 overall and 11-9 in the ACC, which is more than respectable. But this isn’t last season. It’s a new year with enough new players and new problems.
So while the situation is similar, the result will likely be different.
Wednesday night’s loss all but confirms it.