Here's what I wrote to start off the recap of Virginia Tech's loss at North Carolina:
Here's the thing about Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney. You have to take the good with the bad with him. At the end of the day, there's going to be more good than bad, but the bad is going to get a lot more publicity.
For Delaney, Saturday's huge win over Duke was the exact opposite of that Jan. 13 loss and this time, the good deserves to get more publicity than the bad. After struggling for the game's first 35 minutes, Delaney was instrumental in helping the Hokies come from behind to beat the Blue Devils and put them in a very good position to make their first NCAA Tournament in Delaney's career.
The Hokies' halftime lead turned into a six-point deficit midway through the second half as the calm, cool and collected Blue Devils looked like they were going to run away from a Virginia Tech team that appeared to be coming unraveled. Then, the Hokies received a big wake up call in the form of a thundering put-back dunk by Victor Davila with a little over five minutes left to cut Duke's lead to three.
That's when Delaney grabbed a rebound off a missed Nolan Smith layup and raced down the court, finding Terrell Bell for an open transition three that tied the game. While Delaney struggled with his shot for most of the game, he was very good in transition.
Later, with just over two minutes to play, Delaney knocked down the game's biggest shot. Despite being 3-for-13 from the floor at the time and looking like a player that lacked confidence, Delaney stepped up calmly hit a three that put Tech up, 62-57. It turned out to be the difference as the Hokies held on for the upset.
The shot redeemed Delaney's night. He had missed his first five attempts from behind the arc and struggled to get quality shots against Duke's Nolan Smith. Smith did an exception job on Delaney and the Devils were also able to hedge on Delaney off screens and force him to give up the ball or take a low-percentage shot.
Then came the three, which sent Cassell Coliseum into frenzy for the umpteenth time Saturday night and made even the most cynical fan believe that the Hokies were going to beat the nation's No. 1 team.
You take the good with the bad with Delaney. We saw the bad in the end games against Purdue and North Carolina and the good when it mattered most against Duke. And it may be enough to put the Hokies in the NCAA Tournament. Avoid let-downs against BC and Clemson and don't suffer a catastrophic loss in Greensboro and Delaney should find himself in the tournament.
Joining him would be Jeff Allen and Victor Davila, who both posted monster games against the Devils while Delaney was struggling to find his shot. Both had double-doubles and accounted for 25 of the Hokies' 44 rebounds. They were especially good on the offensive glass, pulling down 10 of Tech's 16 offensive boards.
The Hokies grabbed 35.6 percent of available offensive rebounds and held Duke to just 24.3 percent of ORebs, well below the 36.3 percent the Devils were pulling in during ACC play coming into the game.
Tech was also able to stay out of foul trouble for most of the game because it was able to stay in its zone while the Blue Devils were bricking three after three. The Blue Devils finished 4-for-20 from behind the arc, exemplified by Kyle Singler's 1-for-7 three-point shooting night.
While Duke struggled behind the arc, the Hokies were pitiful from the free-throw line. Tech was an astounding 6-for-19 at the line and guard Erick Green was 1-for-5, including two critical misses with 30 seconds left that could have iced the game.
Despite the misses, the Hokies will be riding high after knocking off the No. 1 team in the country for the third time since 2007. Now, they have to finish against BC and Clemson and they'll be dancing. The senior night game against BC two days from now might be a concern. The Eagles are also on the bubble and will motivated against a Hokie team that used its bench for a grand total of seven minutes in an emotionally draining game.
Then, they'll go on the road to Clemson, where every meeting between the Hokies and Tigers have been decided by three points or fewer since Tech joined the ACC. Delaney's three and Saturday's win put the Hokies in a position where they control their NCAA Tournament destiny, now they have to avoid a meltdown.
Read Duke Basketball Report for the Duke perspective of the game.
Next on Virginia Tech's basketball schedule: 9 p.m. EST Tuesday vs. Boston College.