March is here and the madness is about to take over the sports. Here’s what it means for the Hokies and what to expect...
For Virginia Tech, they earned a four seed for the NCAA Tournament and have a lot on the line. To start off, the Hokies are two wins away from a school record in wins. The Hokies turn-around has been incredible and reaching the Sweet Sixteen and breaking that record would be a tremendous way to close out the season.
⚡️ “ Three straight ”https://t.co/IiCXLJoP33— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) March 18, 2019
Things to Watch for:
First and foremost, the Hokies have Justin Robinson back. This means many things, but also brings a lot of emotion. In the round of 64, expect the Hokies to come out hot and be playing with a lot of intensity. Sometimes, that can be a bad thing, but I assume with the team leader coming back that the Hokies can harness it and use it as a positive.
Also due to Justin Robinson’s return will be the Hokies spacing and their pace. If you look back at film from the season and you’ll how many more open looks the Hokies get with Justin Robinson at the point. The main reason for that would be that it allows Nickeil Alexander-Walker to be back on the wing where he’s even more of a threat. As of late, the Hokies have gotten in a rythm that allows for open looks, but having Justin Robinson back will allow for even more good looks.
What it Takes for a Run:
The Hokies have been dealt a decent hand by the selection committee. The first round match-up should be relatively easy for Tech against Saint Louis, but they have to be careful and not take a day off. With this team however, I don’t expect that to be an issue with such a passionate coach and a hungry group of players. As long as Tech shoots higher than 15% from three, the Hokies should be good to go.
With the second round being highly likely, Tech would more than likely play Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are a team that doesn’t have an enormous strength, but are solid across the board. With that being said, the Hokies have a better offense and defense on paper as well as superior shooting percentages. Both teams play up to their game, and Tech should be alright.
With a win, the next opponent would probably be Duke. The Hokies won the only regular season match-up but both teams were missing a key player. Both of those guys will be back if this match-up takes place and would lead to a heck of a game. Duke would probably come out on top in that game if it happens, but don’t doubt an emotional Virginia Tech team in March.
With a win in the Sweet Sixteen, Tech would be in a position to compete with anyone (and I have no clue who the match-up would be). If Tech shoots well and plays sound defense, they’ll have a fighting chance against anyone.
On a player by player level, the tournament will be huge for a few individuals. First of all it’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Hovering in the 8-15 range in mock drafts, NAW has a chance to solidify his spot in the top ten and maybe climb higher. The top four picks are pretty set in stone, but after that it’s mostly fluid. A Sweet Sixteen run (or deeper) and a solid campaign from Nickeil, and he could climb a good bit in the draft.
Some more love for NAW— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) March 20, 2019
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (@TheReal_NAW1) ranks as the 20th-best player in the tournament, according to @SBNation
via @SBN_Ricky ⤵️
» https://t.co/HNIYPlyvTj #getBETTER | #Hokies pic.twitter.com/BkxucZSu0n
In a similar ballpark is Justin Robinson. While he’s not a name on most draft boards, other players have had great tournament runs and either been drafted or been signed after the draft. Players like Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcodiacono have gotten roles in the NBA because of tournament runs. It’s not super likely, but J-Rob could end up bypassing the G-League with some solid play and a couple big games.
Lastly, it would be Kerry Blackshear Jr. He’ll be back next year for the Hokies in his senior campaign, but if he keeps up his recent level of play, he could have a chance at preseason All-ACC or maybe even a secondary All-American team. In addition, a good tournament could put him on some second round draft boards to start out his senior season.
Obviously, winning is the priority and all of those guys know it. This is a veteran, talented Virginia Tech team that can get hot in a hurry. Some big performances and good all around playing and the Hokies could turn some heads come March.
First round is Friday Night at 9:57 p.m. on truTV against Saint Louis. Be sure to tune in and...