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Hokies Can Make A Run In NCAA Tournament

Virginia Tech basketball's ACC Tournament came to a somewhat predictable end against North Carolina, as sitting for 12 days before playing and maintaining a high level of play is about as difficult as it gets.

But after studying the pairings announced last night, the path ahead for Virginia Tech seems doable.

The Hokies can make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia Tech's first-round matchup comes against Florida, that one school who lured Kerry Blackshear Jr. away from Blacksburg upon Mike Young's arrival. The Gators are a good/not great team that finished fifth in the SEC, and have lost three of their last four games. From a size and personnel point, the Hokies match up well with the Gators.

Should Virginia Tech move past Florida in the first round, they'll likely face No. 2 Ohio State, an unpredictable team that won 10 of 11 games, capped off their regular season with four straight losses, then won three games in the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes went 21-9 in one of the toughest conferences in America, but we've seen how hot and cold they can run. 

A Sweet 16 run would open up all sorts of possibilities. Here are some of the other teams to watch in the South Region that Virginia Tech could run up against...

  • No. 1 Baylor: The Bears are probably the second-best team in the country behind Gonzaga. Baylor won 22 games in one of the best conferences in America and sports wins over Illinois, Texas Tech, Kansas, Texas and West Virginia. That said, Baylor did lose to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship tournament.
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For Hokie Fans Dreaming Of Another Big Man...

It was only a week ago many noticed Storm Murphy, a high-scoring guard from Wofford, had entered the transfer portal and Virginia Tech fans immediately thought “we could use a point guard who could score.”

We all know how that turned out, as Murphy is transferring to Virginia Tech. But seconds after that happened, Hokie fans started thinking “and if we could only get another big man...”

There’s one out there, Hokie faithful. He’s good, he’d be a great fit, and he is already aware of Virginia Tech.

Tre Mitchell is a 6-foot-9, 240-pound center from Pittsburgh who has played two seasons at UMass. He was named Atlantic 10 all-conference and Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year his freshman year, and last season averaged 18.8 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game.

This morning on Twitter he announced he is leaving UMass, saying "After extensive thought and conversations with family I’ve decided that at this juncture I’m going to weigh every option and have entered my name into the transfer portal."

Why is this of particular interest to Virginia Tech fans? Well, after a high school career that included him being named the Connecticut Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2019, he narrowed his choices down to six before picking Massachusetts. Among those six were the Hokies of Virginia Tech.

If you will remember, this was a time when the head coach of the Hokies was Buzz Williams, and that entire year you couldn’t go anywhere in basketball circles where people weren’t saying “you know, Buzz is going to leave after this season and go to a school in Texas.” Whether that made any difference, I don’t know, but if you're not sure the coach recruiting you will be there the next season, it would make most think twice.

But it wouldn't be a great leap to think as a high school senior, the Atlantic Coast Conference was a place Mitchell thought about playing in. Three of his final six were in the ACC: Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Syracuse.

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Guest — Larry Cherney

Looking ahead...

I think we're 2 players away, a complete 1 and a serious "big man." Padulla and Murphy will be an upgrades @ the 1 and If Bede st... Read More
Monday, 15 March 2021 15:11

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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Dave Fulton


We'll be pulling for our Hokie friends. Always good to get a shot at taking down a SEC team.
Monday, 15 March 2021 08:32
Dave Scarangella


We'll be doing the same for Virginia Saturday, and all Commonwealth teams, for that matter. Well, until one of us plays the other.... Read More
Monday, 15 March 2021 09:31

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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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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Hokies Need Aluma To Bounce Back In NCAA Tournament

Virginia Tech big man Keve Aluma has been stellar this season, as the second-team All-ACC center played a large role in the Hokies' regular-season success this year.

But last night against North Carolina, he also played a role in their demise.

North Carolina surged past the Hokies in the second half, winning 81-73 in the quarterfinal of the ACC Tournament. That surge, in large part, started with the Tar Heels' regaining supremacy under the basket in the second half.

Virginia Tech controlled the paint in the first half, and it was a team effort. The Hokies bodied up down low and won all the relevant paint stats — points in the paint, rebound margin, second chance points. Tech denied entry to the paint and after an exhaustive performance, Tech earned themselves a three-point lead.

That exhaustive performance, however, wasn't sustainable with the Hokies essentially playing only six players the entire game.

Carolina's cadre of big men — Armando Bacot, Day'Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler — proved too much for Virginia Tech to contend with. The trio combined for 31 points, 25 rebounds and six blocks. And more importantly, they were extremely physical with Aluma down low.

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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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Larry Cherney


I'm not a basketball guy but I picked up on the PG issue several weeks ago. Imagine this team W/a multi-skilled JR-type 1 who can... Read More
Friday, 12 March 2021 09:43
Dave Scarangella

Makes you wonder about Carter ...

If he had stayed, could he have contributed toward helping all this...
Friday, 12 March 2021 09:56

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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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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Dave Fulton


Networks want Duke for ratings just as they hope Yankees go to World Series yearly. But the way some of the announcers fawn over t... Read More
Thursday, 11 March 2021 08:02

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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Dave Fulton


The only way that ham sandwich could get 20-1 odds would be if it were slathered in Duke's mayonnaise.... Read More
Tuesday, 09 March 2021 13:01
Dave Scarangella


Well played
Tuesday, 09 March 2021 13:32
Guest — Johnny Hurst

Brillo Pad

I hope Bill Brill is seeing the standings! If so he is spinning in his grave. I still have an intense dislike for Mr. Brill and so... Read More
Wednesday, 10 March 2021 08:46

I'm Begging You Virginia Tech, Take My Money

A month ago, I wrote this story, saying how much I wanted a tin of popcorn with Mike Young's aging mug on it. 

Now I want more.

That request was for something I could send out to friends at Christmas time who were fellow Hokie fans. Everyone likes flavored popcorn, and there'd be no better way to say "Go Hokies" to friends in the middle of basketball season than a tub of it with the basketball coach's image on it.

But today's news warrants something extra. Perhaps a limited edition can to commemorate Mike Young winning the ACC Coach Of The Year honors.

The popcorn would still taste as sweet, but it would be something that would be more of a collector's item to remind you of what a memorable season this has been. It could be a limited edition run of only so many cans, and when those were sold, there would be no more.

Before you laugh, I have boxes of cereal from the 1990s commemorating Virginia Tech successes on the football field. You can buy old Sports Illustrated editions with Michael Vick on the cover for far more than what they cost back in the day. People like to have things that remind them of a happy time years ago. 

Exhibit A would be the tin of popcorn sitting on a shelf here in my office that says "Washington Nationals, 2019 National Champions." The popcorn was long gone only a few days after the tin arrived at my home

But it’s not going to ever be thrown away. Nor would a limited edition tin of Mike winning Coach Of The year. 

So to the good people in the marketing department at Virginia Tech, take my money. Give me a reason to overpay for popcorn. Force me to join the Hokie Club if you have to, but there's money on the table all across Hokie Nation.

Give me a reason to send it to you.

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