Hello, FELLOW ACC BASKETBALL CHAMPION FANS! Turns out, the sport that used to fill time between the loluva game and the spring game is now something the Hokies are good at! That's right, friends...Virginia Tech is a basketball school now. This fact pairs nicely with a hint of superiority, by which I mean noting that the Hoos, who like to frequently remind everyone that "football doesn't matter, just wait until basketball season", will be participating in the NIT tournament this year. Going to the safety school of tournaments 1 is quite fitting, I think.
So what does Tech get for an ACC Championship? The ELEVEN seed in the East Region and an all expenses paid to MILWAUKEE!
1. Wait, so the Hokies are like, ranked 11th? Help me, put this in terms of football.
A. No! There are FOUR 11 seeds, so it's actually somewhere in the vicinity of the 41st-44th best basketball team. Even though Tech won the ACC. And they're 11 out of 16, which means they're playing the 6 seed. And even though they won 23 games in the ACC and clearly only deserved an 11 seed, the opponent, who won 21 games and has been chillin' at home since losing in the quarterfinals of their conference tournament, earned a 6 seed.
2. Don't be bitter. Who are they?
A. The University of Texas at Austin. You may remember these fellows from no Virginia Tech basketball game ever, since the teams have never played. The Hokies HAVE played them in football, if you recall the '95 Sugar Bowl where Texas had no answer to Bryan Still running buckwild because Ron McKelvey went AWOL the day before the game.
3. Tell me more about this team.
A. Don't worry, I've done 8 pages of research on this. The University of Texas at Austin or, if you are an in-the-know local, Tejas (pronounced TAY-haas), is one of eight universities in the UT system. They are known as the Longhorns, which is a species of cow found frequently on their campus, which is predominately focused on agricultural and natural fertilizers. For this reason, they are also commonly called the "Aggies", so if you see any of them, be sure to say "Howdy, Tejas Aggie!" They will appreciate you communicating in their regional dialect.
4. What do we know about Tejas?
A. Tejas is an interesting place with a storied history. Originally a confluence of three different Native American cultures, the Southwest Pueblos, Plains tribes and Aztec, Europeans showed up and eradicated most of them with disease and bullets, beginning Tejas's identity crisis. Originally explored by the Spanish, the French were actually the first to found a colony there in the 1600s. When the Spanish found out about the French colony, King Carlos II got big mad and ordered it destroyed. It took so long (4 years) for the Spanish to actually find the colony, that in the meantime, a local Native American tribe got pissy about a boat incident and killed everyone2.
So then Tejas was Spanish, right? Well, sure, but North American colonies were frequently used like big IOU chips back in Europe, and at some point Spain sold off Louisiana(ish?) to France for some beans or something but didn't do a great job of identifying what "Louisiana" meant, and then LITERALLY the next year France sold Louisiana to the US to fund Napoleon's gambling habit3 and Thomas Jefferson pointed at Tejas and said "MINE NOW". This turned into an ongoing dispute that was only resolved when Spain gave the US Florida if we would just shut up about wanting Tejas and first off, we really got the short end of THAT deal and second, doesn't really seem like we stuck to it, right?
So a few years later, Spain peaced out and Tejas was now part of Mexico. If you're keeping tabs at home, this is now the fourth turnover with a period of unclear possession in the middle there. So the Mexican thing was happening, but they made the mistake of inviting American immigrants, who didn't like actually being in Mexico, so a few years later they were like "We're gonna go ahead and be our own country" mostly because Mexico was adamant they follow laws like "No slavery" and the Americans were like "nah". So then the Alamo happened, Davy Crockett died and boom, Republic of Tejas. Turnover 5.
And THEN, Tejas was all like "Being a country is HARD" so they said they'd come hang out with the US if we paid all their bills (turnover 6), and we said ok, but then they got worried that the US was going to try to make them follow the "no slavery" rule now so they peaced out AGAIN (turnover 7) and joined the Confederacy, but that didn't work out either; they spent most of the war stuck on the other side of the Union-controlled Mississippi from all their other states and entrusting their defense to a guy named Kirby so then they were back in the US (turnover 8). So Tejas really gives you a lot of concern with their ball control and ability to maintain possession, is what I'm saying.
But also, they are super proud of this! Want to know why it's called Six Flags? Because of the six national flags that have flown over the state! Just pick a country and stick to it!
5. Wow, that was a lot. I was asking more about the basketball team?
A. Oh! Right. So in addition to not being that great at football, Tejas is also not that great at basketball. They've been to the Final Four a few times, but mostly back when Army was winning football national championships and once when they had TJ Ford. Even when they had Kevin Durant (KEVIN DURANT!) on their roster, they couldn't get out of the second round. More recently, they hired Shaka Smart away from VCU, who made them good, but then they got knocked out in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year and he got tired of the Tejas boosters thinking they should be winning national titles every year so he bounced to Marquette, replacing Wojo who had just gotten fired for being terrible after being hired to replace (dumdumDUM) Buzz Williams™.
6. So are they still good?
A.. Eh. They finished fifth in the Big XII after being picked to finish second, and they're riding a three-game skid into their matchup with the Hokies. They are led in scoring by Timmy Allen, who has a lot of tools in his...(wait for it)...toolbox. They also have a really strong row of white guys taking up the end of the bench with STRONG white guy names like Cole, Gavin, Tristen and Brock. In an amazing development, they also have the guy from Biffy Clyro, only he plays under the name Avery Benson and is averaging a healthy 0.1 PPG.
Take away the smile and this is a mugshot of a Florida man who just fought an alligator for meth at a Hardee's.
7. Anything else about UT we should know?
A. It's in Austin which, much like Northern Virginia, is full of the worst people that the rest of the country sends us, only Austin just imports the worst Texans along with Elon Musk. Lots of money, a bridge with bats and good breakfast tacos. A music scene as well, it's like an aggressive version of Nashville.
8. Any prominent alumni?
A. Well, you might run into Matthew McConaughey, who famously intro'd Tejas for the Vince Young National Championship game, but I don't know if Wisconsin has legalized weed yet. They've got multiple guys named "Tex" on their famous alumni list, including John Ritter's dad, who went by Tex? Really? They also boast Kinky Friedman, a Jewish country singer who ran for governor of Tejas in 2006 and got over 12% of the vote and who goes by, in all seriousness, Kinky, BUT NOT FOR THE REASONS YOU THINK. You seem to get further if you don't actually graduate, like David Geffen and Michael Dell, who started companies named after themselves, and Janis Joplin. But perhaps the best contribution Tejas has given to the world is Eli Wallach; Tuco, from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly!
9. Are FAINTS a thing in basketball?
A. Nope. None of the Fuller brothers played basketball at Virginia Tech, although rumors abound that Kendall could dunk on a 12-foot basket. Corroborating video evidence has not yet emerged, but I personally do not choose to doubt him. One thing that does happen on the regular is Justyn Mutts posterizing someone. While he has yet to teabag a Duke player like Deron Washington, he does embarrass folks with alarming regularity, his latest victim being Paolo Banchero, last seen crawling away in shame from the hole Mutts put him in.
10. What if I decide to eat in Milwaukee?
A. Always a strong choice. To help you out, I've done some digging and have a BBQ recommendation AND a suggestion to taste the local flavor.
For barbeque, it looks like Iron Grate is highly recommended. Let's see what Benjamin Lloyd has to say:
Solid variety of meats and sides. Casual order window and small dining area. The Milwaukee Ribs
What the hell is a Milwaukee rib?
are NOT ribs: its pork belly!
Oh, that's a change up I did NOT see coming, BUT...on brand for Milwaukee.
Food comes out fast, hot and smokey. The two sauces offered are both vinegar based (may be a negative if youre not into that) Cornbread is perfect. One of the better BBQ places in milwaukee.
HOW ON EARTH COULD VINEGAR SAUCE BE A NEGATIVE, BENJAMIN? Let's see what LP has to add to this.
We ordered a pound of brisket, a side of smothered greens and mac n cheese, and four corn bread muffins to go. When we got home, the order consist of brisket, two smothered greens, mac and cheese, two corn bread muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. We looked at our receipt to make sure the order was taken correctly, and it was. You guys should really inform customers if you guys are out of something before taking a payment plus tip. Also, inform customers if you're going to give them something completely different...People order what they want for a reason, so if you guys know you can't fulfill the order don't take the payment and ask if the customer would like to leave a tip for the staff.
Ah, the Popeyes experience. Generally, if a restaurant is good enough that it can jack up your order and not really be bothered, that means the food is probably pretty good. Also, LP needs to order some beers or valium to go with their whine. One last review, let's see what Dave Rosenlund thinks.
I'm not sure who is giving 5 star reviews for this average, salty greasy food!? We ordered the 3 meat 3 side for 2 people for a whopping $32.00...Salty!!! For the meats we got pork, ribs and brisket....the pork was dry yet dripping in grease and so salty it was hardly eatable . We got 1 rib with barely enough meat for one person and it had bloody veins in it! The brisket was good but half of it was fat. For the sides we had baked beans, coleslaw and mac n cheese. The beans were again so salty and had way to much smoke flavor ( not eatable), coleslaw was good but nothing special and the mac n cheese was ok but the melted cheese on top was again super salty! We had the mango ice tea that had a bug and a bunch of grit in the bottom and one other oh their juices that had a metal shaving in it! All totaled it was $41 for very mediocre food with two thick slices of nasty white bread from Piggly Wiggly. Smoke Shack is way better with great atmosphere but very expensive as well! Way over priced IMO... way too salty and portions are on the small side... who shares one rib??
I don't know if y'all knew this, but THEY HAVE PIGGLY WIGGLY IN WISCONSIN. WAT? Which almost distracted me from Dave here telling us the food was not eatable at a BBQ restaurant because it was too smoky. It's also unclear if Dave is British or if the veins were actually still holding blood after hours in a smoker, which seems...unlikely.
Alright, well, if a Milwaukee rib doesn't interest you, a traditional Wisconsin bratwurst might do the trick. Not far from the Fiserv Forum (what the hell is a Fiserv?) is the Milwaukee Brat House, which almost qualifies as another barbeque restaurant, but I'll allow it. Pro tip, if you are smoking some ribs, throw a couple of packs of brats on the smoker as well. They'll take a little bit higher heat and be done in about an hour and the skin gets crispy and dang it, now I'm hungry. Ok, Scott Perdue, take her away!
We happened upon this place on our first visit to Milwaukee and we are very glad we did. THE BIGGEST PRETZEL I'VE EVER HAD. They said it was big, but I was expecting a large but skinny Bavarian style pretzel. What I received is a THICK pretzel the size of a pizza box, with two different delicious Wisconsin cheese dips and a tasty mustard.
Their cheese curds were incredible as well, and my wife enjoyed her burger. Great beer specials – only $2 each when we went.
I have to say, there were way more reviews than I expected that just did not bother to address the brats, which would seem to be a focal point for this place. NO ONE skipped on reviewing the cheese curd and beer situation, however. Also, $2 beers? I need to move to Milwaukee.
Speaking of cheese curds, I'd like to highlight some things I've pulled out of a variety of reviews:
Cheese curds were to die for
Awesome brats and cheese curds
Cheese curds were delicious
Cheese curds were so-so
Sensing a theme? Now, these are just regular Wisconsinites offering their opinions on curds, as one does. No fluff. Some good, some great, some bad. I don't know what it is about barbeque that makes people say pretentious shit like "I consider myself a BBQ aficionado" or "I lived in the south for a month and have all of Toby Keith's albums so I KNOW BBQ", but there are SO many BBQ reviewers that feel compelled to establish that they are THE go to expert on all smoked meats. Half of them go on to say something dumb, too, like "I'd put this up against the best pulled pork anywhere in Texas!" BBQ is the least pretentious food there is outside of PB&Js. You don't need to establish your bona fides to have a damn opinion about food. No one is out here making sure these Milwaukee Brat House reviewers have a cheese head and high blood pressure to validate their cheese curd opinion, so why can't we treat BBQ the same way? Do you like the brisket? Cool. You didn't? Fine. Just stop being elitist about it. You're missing the whole point.
Finally, I'll leave you with a list of things to watch for on Friday:
- Who is going to step up to put the dagger in Tejas? Honestly, it seems like the Hokies have a rotation going of who gets to destroy which team on which night.
- If the Hokies win, who will throw up the horns down? My money is on Sean Pedulla, an Oklahoma native who also seems to have an unfair amount of confidence for a freshman.
- If things go well on Friday, on Sunday Tech will face either the Purdue Boilermakers or Yale, and I don't want to look up their mascot.