It's a weird thing to say after a 22-point loss, but Virginia Tech had a successful road trip. The Hokies won a thriller over No.
2 1 Virginia and suffered a thorough loss to No. 12 Duke.
Let's be honest. If I told you last week that the Hokies would beat the Cavaliers and then get blown out the Blue Devils, you would've taken it in a heartbeat.
And that's what happened. The blowout loss leaves a bad taste in fans' mouths, but in the long run, it was a good stretch by Buzzketball. Tech currently sits at 7th in the ACC, good enough for a first round bye in the ACC Tournament.
Up next is a road game at Georgia Tech and then a clash in Cassell against No. 11 Clemson.
Virginia Tech 61–Virginia 60
I won't bore you with the details from this game again. Get caught up and read my dispatch from John Paul Jones Arena. If you're anything like me, you've already rewatched the game. And then rewatched it again.
The Hokies gave the 'Hoos a dose of their own medicine. Tech focused on defense, clogged the lane and forced Virginia to take an absurd amount of three-pointers.
It was easily the best defensive performance of the season, as Tech held the No. 2 team in the country to their worst shooting night of the season.
The victory in Charlottesville is a huge boost to the Hokies' tournament resume. It's a Q1 win and a triumph over the eventual No. 1 team and overall No. 1 seed. This win will only get better as the season progresses.
Virginia Tech 52–Duke 74
For as good as Tech played in Charlottesville, they played equally as bad in Durham.
And you know what? That's okay.
Imagine if Tech had won. The hype train would be barrelling off the tracks. It would be easy for Buzzketball to look past the upcoming games with Georgia Tech and Clemson. They'd be ranked on Monday. A higher seed in Bracketology. Fourth place in the ACC.
But now, with a blowout loss fresh on the players and coaching staff's mind, I can only imagine how focused the team is.
And as Buzz Williams pointed out postgame, the Hokies played three games in 10 days, with just two days of rest. Tech seemed tired and worn out in Cameron on Wednesday night, and I don't blame them.
One final observation from the Duke game: If the Blue Devils play like they did against the Hokies for the rest of the season, they will win the national championship. Plain and simple. Do I think it happens? No. But Duke flashed their potential.
February 17, Noon, ESPN2: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
It's a trap!
You're right, Admiral Ackbar.
I don't know why, but I'm very uneasy about this game. Georgia Tech isn't a good basketball team. But with Williams at the helm, every game between the two has been decided by 2 points or less, albeit 3 wins.
The Yellow Jackets lost one of their best players last week. Jose Alvarado is out for the season with a dislocated and fractured elbow. How important was Alvarado? Prior to his injury, he had played 197 straight minutes.
Sophomore Josh Okogie will step in to fill the void at point guard. Okogie scored 29 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out four assists in relief of Alvarado against Duke.
Ben Lammers, the star for the Yellow Jackets last year, is nursing a knee injury. Sharpshooter Curtis Haywood II is out for the season with a stress fracture. When Alvarado went down, Georgia Tech had to turn to two freshman to bolster their rotation back up to just seven players.
Long story short, the Yellow Jackets are banged up. They're 4-9 in the ACC. They've lost 4 in a row.
And yet, I'm still wary.
Virginia Tech has to come out and establish they're the better team early. They can't let the Yellow Jackets hang around and gain confidence.
February 21, 7 p.m., Regional Sport Networks: Virginia Tech vs. No. 11 Clemson
Clemson is really good. Surprisingly good, honestly. Without their best player — Donte Grantham — the Tigers have established themselves as a top-tier team in the ACC. Sitting at 20-5 (9-4), Brad Brownell has improved his squad from a disappointing 17-16 (6-12) campaign last season.
So how good exactly is Clemson? In the various ratings, the Tigers are No. 6 (RPI), No. 16 (Pomeroy), and No. 26 (Sagarin). A victory over Clemson would be a huge boost for the Hokies on Selection Sunday.
It won't be easy. Four of the five Tiger starters average double-figures scoring wise, led by junior guard Marcquise Reed. Reed plays 34 minutes a game and scores 16 points per contest. Gabe Devoe is the resident marksman in Clemson, SC. Devoe is averaging close to 44% from deep. On the boards, there isn't a huge threat. Clemson's leading rebounder, Elijah Thomas, only averages 7.6 rebounds per game. Thomas only plays 24 minutes on average as well.
Clemson rolls out a small lineup, with none of their starters standing above 6'9". In fact, the tallest player on the Tigers' roster is 6'9". Tech will have to come out and take advantage of a smaller lineup.
The Tigers blew an 18-point lead on Wednesday and lost 79-81 to Florida State. Clemson hosts Duke on Sunday night prior to its trip to Blacksburg. It's entirely possible that the Tigers will be reeling and pressed for a win in Cassell. That can be dangerous.