November is just days away and fall is in full swing, which means it’s nearly NCAA Basketball time once again. Since last season the Virginia Tech Hokies Men’s Basketball program has went through significant changes. Buzz Williams exited to join Texas A&M after spending five seasons in Blacksburg. With him went arguably the program’s top six players, through graduation, declaring for the NBA, and transferring to new programs. That ends a peak in Virginia Tech basketball history, in which the program went to the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons the first time.
In comes Mike Young, from an incredibly strong year at Wofford. The Terriers went 16-0 in the Southern Conference and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Young is a Radford, VA resident, and quite familiar with both Virginia Tech and state basketball history. He will oversee one of the youngest teams in the country in the unrelenting gauntlet that is ACC Basketball.
So with all of that uncertainty, how do the experts see the 2019-20 season going for the Virginia Tech Hokies?
- KenPom - The well regarded statistician has VT ranked 54th in the nation. On a deeper level, the site has the Hokies offense ranked 66th, defense ranked 43rd, and 317th in tempo. Although that last stat can easily be knocked aside with efficiency, as UVA showed last year. The Cavs start the year in last place, at 353rd, in KenPom’s rankings for tempo.
- CBS Sports is very low on the young Hokies, ranking them 104th in the nation. However, they believe coach Mike Young is a great selection, and given time, will succeed in Blacksburg.
- ACC Preseason Rankings - The media have VT tabbed to finish 14th (out of 15) in the ACC this upcoming season. Only Wake Forest received less votes, but just barely.
- AP Poll & USA Today Coaches Poll - Unsurprisingly, Virginia Tech are no where near a spot in either of the major preseason Top 25 polls.
- The News & Observer (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) - Projects the Hokies as the last place team in the ACC with the league’s only new head coach.
- CBS Sports experts have Tech as 14th in the ACC, as high as 9th in one individual’s ranking, but dead last in three of the five voters’ polls.
- ESPN follows suit.
- Sports Illustrated has one of the higher opinions of the Hokies’ program, placing them 12th in the ACC.
If someone has avoided reading or watching any news about the Men’s basketball program since Duke eliminated the Hokies in last season’s NCAA Tournament, they are in for a big surprise come November 5th. Fans need to have low expectations, focusing instead on the potential of young players and the beginnings of Mike Young’s system in Blacksburg.
After years of success and entertaining games at Cassell Coliseum under Buzz Williams, the team need that good will returned from the Hokie fanbase. Another year of strong support inside of Cassell will go a long way towards helping the program rebuild at the start of this new era and continue the early returns from Mike Young’s recruiting efforts.
Welcome back to college basketball.