After a one-of-a-kind year in collegiate basketball, we can finally (thankfully) say goodbye to the regular season and look ahead to tournament time. As you may recall this preseason the media predicted the Virginia Tech Hokies to finish in 11th place during Mike Young’s second season in Blacksburg. Tech entered the season having seen their top scorer transfer away (Landers Nolley) and the introduction of nearly half a new team through transfers and freshmen.
Along the way, there were setbacks — numerous games were called off due to COVID-19 test results and protocols, both at Tech and opponent schools, a key point guard opted to sit out the season (Cartier Diarra), and the arrest and suspension of sophomore Tyrece Radford. But despite those hurdles, the Hokies pulled out several wins over ranked opponents — Villanova, UVA, Clemson, and Duke (which looks less impressive now) — fans saw the introduction of a new star big man in transfer Keve Aluma, and tied their best ever finishing position in the ACC (also 3rd during the 2006-07 season).
This weekend the ACC wrapped up league play, which should have featured the Hokies taking on NC State. Despite movement throughout the rest of the league, Tech remained steady as the #3 seed heading into the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC this upcoming week. They receive a bye past the first two rounds and will be back in action on Thursday, a 12-day break since their last game.
On Tuesday in the opening round 11th-place Notre Dame faces 14th-place Wake Forest. The winner will then move on to play 6th place UNC on Wednesday evening in the late game. The school to advance from that trio of teams will face 3rd place Virginia Tech Thursday night. That game will tip-off at 9 pm ET (unless the earlier game runs long) and can be seen on either ESPN or ESPN2 (final TV schedules will be set closer to the day-of).
The #3 seed and double-bye means that the Hokies only need to win three games to win their first-ever ACC Tournament title. However, their return from their first COVID-19 break will be looming in the minds of fans, but hopefully not to too great of an extent for the coaching staff and players. Tech cannot afford another performance like the one that led to the 16-point loss against Georgia Tech, if they come up against Notre Dame (who just beat Florida State on Saturday) or UNC (coming off an 18-point win over Duke).
If the favorites win out, which rarely happens, Virginia Tech would need to beat North Carolina and Florida State, before setting up a potential showdown with Virginia in the title game.
Here is the full ACC Tournament schedule from HokieSports:
Tuesday, March 9 - First Round
- 2 p.m. – No. 12 Pitt vs. No. 13 Miami (ACC Network)
- 4:30 p.m. – No. 10 Duke vs. No. 15 Boston College (ACC Network)
- 7 p.m. – No. 11 Notre Dame vs. No. 14 Wake Forest (ACC Network)
Wednesday, March 10 - Second Round
- Noon – No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 NC State (ACC Network)
- 2:30 p.m. – No. 5 Clemson vs. Pitt/Miami winner (ACC Network)
- 6:30 p.m. – No. 7 Louisville vs. Duke/Boston College winner (ACC Network)
- 9 p.m. – No. 6 North Carolina vs. Notre Dame/Wake Forest winner (ACC Network)
Thursday, March 11 - Quarterfinals
- Noon – No. 1 Virginia vs. Wednesday Noon winner (ESPN or ESPN2)
- 2:30 p.m. – No. 4 Georgia Tech vs. Wednesday 2:30 p.m. winner (ESPN or ESPN2)
- 6:30 p.m. – No. 2 Florida State vs. Wednesday 6:30 p.m. winner (ESPN or ESPN2)
- 9 p.m. – No. 3 Virginia Tech vs. Wednesday 9 p.m. winner (ESPN or ESPN2)
Friday, March 12 - Semifinals
- 6:30 p.m. – Thursday afternoon winners (ESPN or ESPN2)
- 9 p.m. – Thursday evening winners (ESPN or ESPN2)
Saturday, March 13 - Championship
- 8:30 p.m. – Semifinal winners (ESPN)
While the Hokies don’t play until late Thursday night there is plenty of other stories to keep an eye on. Duke needs a long run, or potentially a tournament title, to make the NCAA Tournament. How will Florida State respond to losing the top-seed on the final day? Louisville is capable of big wins, but went from potentially 3rd to falling to 7th on Saturday, which Cardinals team will we see in the tournament? Check back in later this week for more ACC Tournament coverage.