Virginia Tech’s men’s basketball team was going to be very good this season, earning them the No. 15 spot in the AP Preseason poll. With wins over Purdue and Washington on neutral courts, the Hokies have risen to No. 10 in the latest edition of the poll.
New Men's Basketball AP Top 10— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 24, 2018
8. Michigan State
9. Florida State
10. Virginia Tech
This is the first top ten ranking for the Hokies since Feb. 1996. Some perspective on that: for those in my graduating class (May 2018) and younger, this is the highest ranking any of us have seen in our lifetimes.
The Hokies’ lone blemish on their record is a one-point loss at Penn State during the ACC/B1G challenge. However, they have looked dominant in stretches over the course of the season in general. Even the advanced stats sites agree. For example, KenPom has the Hokies at ninth, while barttorvik.com has the Hokies at sixth.
The difference between this year’s teams and the teams over the last two years has been the defense. The offense has been playing with the same efficiency (and better in some instances) but the defense has been phenomenal for the most part. We will see if the Hokies’ lack of depth in the front court will prove to be too much to overcome once conference play starts, but it has not hurt them so far.
With Maryland Eastern-Short the lone game before the ACC opener against Notre Dame, it is highly improbable the Hokies will be lower than No. 10 for the rest of 2018.
Tech is the fourth ACC team ranked in the top ten of this week’s poll. No. 1 Duke, No. 4 Virginia, and No. 9 Florida State are ahead of the Hokies, while No. 14 North Carolina is the fifth ranked ACC team following a loss to Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic.