Yes, I know that football season is still in its infancy stage. However, there is reason to be optimistic and excited about the Hokies’ basketball season with their dramatic improvement a season ago. The ACC announced the full slate of games for every team for the upcoming season, including Virginia Tech’s:
· Despite the Hokies’ domination of their in-state archrivals in football, they are still working their way up to be consistently competitive with UVA in basketball. Schedule makers were not kind to the Hokies last year, as the rivalry game in Blacksburg was played during winter break so the student section was not even close to full. That will change this season.
The two team square off twice in an eleven-day span at the beginning of February, with the latter game at Cassell Coliseum. This will be one of the more fun rivalries in the entire nation, and I fully expect both games to be in primetime slots.
· Unfortunately, the student section may be lacking in numbers against the Blue Devils. Virginia Tech opens their ACC schedule against Duke, which is one of two or three teams every ACC program circles on their calendars. Two seasons ago, the Hokies took Krzyzewski’s squad to the brink, falling 91-86 in OT. Last season they were blown out by the Blue Devils in North Carolina. Now that the most of the Hokies have gone through both experiences, they should be ready and amped to finally beat the Blue Devils.
· One of the things the things the NCAA tournament committee looks for is a strong pre-conference performance. The Hokies had multiple letdowns in November and December last year, which hurt their slim chances at landing a spot in the big dance. Buzz Williams has made it a point of emphasis to the players to pick up on the momentum they had at the end of last season to ensure that those letdowns do not repeat. In 2016, this will mean strong performances against Michigan, Texas A&M, and Mississippi, while beating teams like Maine, VMI, etc. Winning all three games will be difficult, but I don’t think it’s out of the question for the Hokies.
· Virginia Tech made noise at the end of last season, entering the ACC tournament on a six game win streak. The final six games of the 2016-17 conference slate include: @Pittsburgh, @Louisville, vs. Clemson, @BC, vs. Miami, vs. WF. That’s three NCAA tournament-caliber teams in that span. If the Hokies can hit their stride at the right time and compete/win against those programs, I’d expect a run to the semifinals of the ACC tournament in 2017.
We will have a more in-depth breakdown of the schedule as we approach November. Buzz Williams and his team now have their calendar laid out, and the feeling is that the players are as excited as the fans to get the season underway.