Last Gasp

The stage is set. As #6 Virginia comes to Blacksburg, this is the moment Virginia Tech basketball can officially turn their season around.

[Virginia Tech Athletics]

Two things can be true at once.

The Virginia Tech men's basketball team is one of the best, toughest to play teams in the ACC.

Virginia Tech men's basketball team has been a cosmic disappointment, and is currently residing near the basement of the conference.

It's downright infuriating, but unfortunately for anyone who follows this program, it's true. When they're right...damn. Nothing and no one can get in their way. They beat Duke despite a classic performance from a stereotypical Duke White Guy™! How many times have we seen GrayJohn Scheyddick Jr. go off for the Blue Devils, summoning the caucastic demons that lurk well below Krzyzewskiville and pull off an improbable win?

Well MJ Collins looked right at them and punched them in the throat.

They not only beat the Blue Devils, but then they absolutely decapitated Syracuse the next time out. The Orange hit the deck harder Jennifer Coolidge in White Lotus as Justyn Mutts diced up the classic 'Cuse zone while Hunter Cattoor and Grant Basile dropped bombs without mercy. (If you're not into spoilers, show some restraint and don't google it.)

When everything's going like that, they look like the team we saw in November. The one that ran North Carolina and Oklahoma State through a buzz saw and nearly beat Dayton — and that's 15-8, 3rd in the A10 Dayton, mind you — by a thirty piece. Sean Pedulla is both crafty and lethal from three. Cattoor is screaming around screens. Mutts and Basile playing perfect five-out basketball. Collins defending, shooting and punching guys in the trachea. It was lovely.

But unfortunately against #23 Miami, the beauty stopped. Well, it stopped for the last five minutes of the game. That's when the other Virginia Tech showed up. You know, the one we all pretended didn't exist when they squeaked by against ODU and Charleston Southern? The front-running, defensively porous group with a penchant for bad turnovers in the worst possible moments, somehow succumbing to the momentum of it all, brutally self-aware that they just might be losing the grip on the game.

It's been a tough season, but I don't think it's quite set in on us exactly how excruciating ACC play has been. Just take the a look at how they lost in Coral Gables:

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