The Virginia Tech Hokies are back in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season. The Hokies take the court Friday in the East region as the No. 11 seed and face the sixth-seeded Texas Longhorns.
The Hokies are certainly underseeded, while some would contend the Longhorns may be overseeded. None of that matters now. Virginia Tech (23-12) enters Friday red hot, winning 13 out of their last 15 games. Four wins came last week when the Hokies powered through the rest of the ACC en route to winning the first ACC championship in school history.
To win the ACC Tournament, Tech defeated the top three seeds, including double-digit blowout wins over North Carolina and Duke in the semifinal and championship game, respectively.
Virginia Tech features an outstanding inside-out game, led by forwards Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts. The Hokies feature multiple guards who can light it up from 3-point range, including Storm Murphy, Nahiem Alleyne, Hunter Cattoor, Darius Maddox and Sean Pedulla. Murphy is the gritty floor general for the Hokies, and it’s no coincidence Tech’s late-season run coincided with his improved play.
Virginia Tech is No. 3 nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage and is ranked No. 10 with 315 3-point field goals made.
Texas, meanwhile, is the stark opposite of Virginia Tech. Under first-year head coach Chris Beard, it’s no surprise the Longhorns are outstanding defensively. Texas ranks No. 6 in scoring defense, as opponents average 59.6 points per game. The Hokies are also good defensively, ranking No. 22 in scoring defense. The Longhorns are No. 13 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, while Tech comes in at No. 54.
Regarding offense, KenPom has the Hokies’ No. 22 adjusted offensive efficiency, whereas Texas is ranked 33.
Texas enters Friday’s game, having lost its last three games. However, two of those losses have come against top seeds Baylor and Kansas. The problem for the Longhorns recently has been their offense. Texas has barely scored over 60 points in its last three losses.
Texas is led by a trio of senior wing players in Timmy Allen, Marcus Carr and Andrew Jones. The trio combines to average almost 34 points per game, led Allen’s 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Both teams employ successful three-guard lineups, while the Hokies are the better shooting team. If Tech hits its shots, the Longhorns will be in trouble. However, if the Hokies struggle from beyond the arc, the advantage goes to Texas.
The Hokies being red-hot at the end of season means nothing this week. Teams which have rolled through their conference tournament don’t always enjoy the same success in the NCAA Tournament. As the higher seed, Texas is a one-point favorite, according to DraftKings. The over/under is set at 123.5. While Texas is slightly favored, the Hokies are a popular pick for a lower seed.