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Men’s Basketball is coming back!

A quick guide to get you back to the (almost) top 25 Hokies and ready for Cassell Nights

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Virginia Tech at Florida
Mike Young is back, along with most of the team that made the NCAA Tournament last season
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Mike Young and Co.

It’s been seven long months since the Hokies took to the court with a very evenly matched Florida team only to be knocked out of the NCAA Tournament. But, Mike Young and his team are back and looking to take the next step for a Hokie program that seems to be trending the right direction. Let’s give a quick look at what the upcoming season for the Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball Team might have in store.

Welcome back

The Hokies are bringing back quite a bit of the team from last season.

Justyn Mutts looks even more solid than his 230lb 6’7 frame would tell you. The redshirt senior has been getting some good praise for his work in the offseason, adding some extra moves in the paint and getting his shot to be more consistent.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Virginia Tech at Florida
Mutts and Cattoor after making a three against Florida in the NCAA Tournament
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Cattoor, the 200lb 6’3 Jr, should be allowed to play more in his catch and shoot role this season, with some of his ball handling duties being moved away. If he is still able to get to the rim on offense, he will be a hard man to guard this year.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Virginia Tech
Nahiem Alleyne at home in Cassell getting ready to shoot against Clemson
Michael Thomas Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Nahiem Alleyne, the 6’4 195lb Jr, looks to be ready for a breakout season. His work on the defensive end and with his shooting this offseason, should go well with his ability to get up and down the court and stop on a dime.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Wofford vs Kentucky
Grad Transfer Storm Murphy moving his way past Ashton Hagans during the 2019 NCAA Tournament
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Storm Murphy, 6’1 185lb graduate transfer from Wofford, will be taking over a lot of the ball handling duties from Cattoor and what was lost with Wabissa Bede not returning as a grad assistant this season. He is a plus (better than average) shooter. He’s an elite ball handler and decision maker. He also does something that I love, typically, he gets the ball to his teammates in a spot where they immediately shoot, drive, or pass. This triple threat position allows for the ball to move quickly and the team to make faster decisions.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tip Off
Keve Aluma at ACC Top-Off
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Keve Aluma, 6’9 235lb redshirt senior, is the star for the Hokies. The Pre-Season All-ACC First Team selection is getting well deserved praise. He, more than any Tech player, has the chance to take this team on his back and win games. After averaging more than 15 points and almost 8 rebounds per game last season, he is prime for a national breakout campaign this year.

Top 25?

The returning talent, plus another year of solid recruiting from Mike and the rest of the coaching staff, has left the Hokies in a very positive situation coming into this 2021-22 season. The Hokies are right now tied for 30th in the AP Poll. Duke ranked 9th, North Carolina 19, FSU 20, and UVA 25 round out the ACC portion of the AP Poll.

I was initially frustrated when looking at the poll. It does matter who gets praise in these things, not just for publicity, but there aren’t many teams ranked in the Top 15 in the country that get a 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

After the initial frustration wore off, I realized that Tech is not in a bad spot. T-30 means that the voters have the Hokies on their minds, they just want to see something first. The early season is a moderately easy one for a Tech team that should move into the Top 25 quickly.

Do the Hokies deserve more preseason love, yes. Does this situation lend itself to the Hokies being a bit of Cinderella team come March, absolutely!

Prediction

While the first half of the non-conference schedule looks to be a bit of a walkthrough, the second half does not. St. Bonaventure, Maryland, and Memphis all have a chance to beat the Hokies and get to play Tech either at home or a neutral site. These are great resume builders, but true tests for a team looking to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. I see them losing 2 non-conference games.

In conference, the Hokies really got the short end of the stick. The only games against FSU and Duke are both on the road. They have UNC twice and lowly BC only once, again, on the road where the Hokies tend to have close games. This feels like a 13-7 season in conference to me. I don’t believe that will show how good this team really is, but I just can’t see them running that gauntlet without a good number of losses to their name.

That should leave the Hokies as around a Top-20 team with a 5-6 seed in the NCAA Tournament mostly because of the strength of the resume. Not bad for boys from Blacksburg. An improvement, with the chance at a serious run in the Tourney. This should be a fun ride.