Two years ago the Virginia Tech entered the NCAA Tournament as a 4-seed, the third straight year in the tournament. Wins over Saint Louis and Liberty moved the Hokies into Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the modern era. There they fell to Duke by two points in the final minute of the game, nearly taking on Michigan State in the Elite Eight. After the season, Buzz Williams left for Texas A&M and it looked like VT was in order for a full rebuild.
Enter Mike Young from Wofford. He quickly created a mixture of remaining pieces and a strong freshman class to finish 9th in the ACC before the NCAA Tournament was called off last year. Ahead of the 2021 season the Hokies were projected to finish 11th in the ACC and had lost their leading scorer.
Coach Young relied on the transfer portal and the debut of former Wofford forward Keve Aluma to reinforce the Hokies. Wins over Villanova and UVA highlighted a 15-6 season and 3rd place finish in the ACC. Now what was once the start of a full rebuild has quickly become a program competing for the conference title and solid NCAA Tournament team. The #10 seed is a bit misleading considering they finished 3rd, are ranked in the top 25 but had a lot of games canceled this season due to COVID.
Either way, Virginia Tech will be happy to be back a part of March Madness and ready to see how they match up against Florida as Friday’s games tip-off. You can check out the full NCAA Tournament bracket here. Here is a quick rundown of what you need to know.
Friday, March 19th, 2021
Match-up: Virginia Tech (15-6) vs. Florida (14-9)
Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of Butler (Indianapolis, IN)
Time: 12:15 pm ET
TV: CBS. Live streaming on the March Madness app.
Live stats: HokieSports
ESPN Favorite: Florida has the slight edge at 54.5%.
All-time series: 5W-4L in favor of the Hokies.
Scoring: Aluma (VT - 15.6) vs. Mann (Florida - 16.0)
Rebounds: Aluma (VT - 8.0) vs. Castleton (Florida- 5.9)
Assists: Bede (VT - 3.2) vs. Mann (Florida- 3.4)
It’s been nearly two decades since these schools faced off, with VT winning by 22 back in 1991. The Gators ended this season with three losses out of their last four, including twice to Tennesee (a 5-seed this year). Florida features a well-balanced team with five players averaging double-digit points and several players hitting over a third of their 3s this season.
Where the Hokies may be able to take the advantage is on the boards with Keve Aluma, Justyn Mutts, and Tyreece Radford pulling in more rebounds on average than anyone on the Gators side.
The winner will take move on to face either Ohio State (2-seed) or Oral Roberts (15-seed) on Sunday. Good luck to the Hokies. Enjoy watching the madness this year and appreciate the fact that we’ve come far enough to have the tournament this year.
Virginia Tech - 75
Florida - 68
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