When we last saw the Virginia Tech Hokies on the basketball court, they had just lost a nail-bitter in the second round of the NIT at BYU in what had been a breakthrough season for the Hokies with 20 wins including a 10-8 ACC record.
Now, the Hokies make their return tonight to the basketball floor tonight at Cassell Coliseum in front of what will be a sell-out crowd that has tons of confidence that Virginia Tech can end its NCAA Tournament drought this year.
For the Hokies, it starts tonight against a weak Maine team that lost a preseason scrimmage to a Division II team, and on paper should be a very easy matchup for the Hokies. However, Virginia Tech still can’t afford to overlook Maine after the Hokies were shocked by Alabama State last year in their season opener.
The issue is Maine wasn’t that good last season and then saw their roster be depleted with five of their top six scorers either transferring or graduating including their top scorers from last season while Maine also doesn’t have a player over 6’8”, allowing the Hokies to not have to worry about not having Kerry Blackshear for this game.
Tonight will be a great chance for Ahmed Hill to make his return to the floor along with the long-awaited debuts of Ty Outlaw, Khadim Sy, and possibly Tyrie Jackson also though Jackson could be a redshirt candidate with the Hokies having a lot of backcourt depth.
Hill showed tons of promise as a freshman while also being Virginia Tech’s best defender in Buzz Williams’s first season with the Hokies while Outlaw is an exciting unknown with the chance to make a statement tonight. Meanwhile, Sy and Johnny Hamilton both seem poised to receive a decent amount of minutes as Virginia Tech looks to see if one of these two big men can step up in the absence of Kerry Blackshear.
No one should be surprised if Hill and Outlaw both have solid games tonight while both star seniors Zach LeDay and Seth Allen will be ready to make their debut and have strong games.
Allen is coming off a strong finish to last season with three 20+ point outings in his final four games while LeDay was one of the biggest surprises in all of America after barely playing at USF and transferring to Virginia Tech. Both these guys will play well in the first half and help put this game out of reach early so they can get some rest in the second half and allow Buzz Williams to get his younger guys playing time.
Buzz Williams likely will be hoping this game is not that contested not only for the obvious reasons of that being a strong performance but also to get playing time to the younger guys like Sy and Tyrie Jackson (if he doesn’t redshirt) along with guys coming back from injury like Hill and Ty Outlaw.
This game likely will get ugly early as the Hokies will learn from their mistakes last season and put together a dominant performance in front of a sell-out crowd at Cassell Coliseum with Ty Outlaw and Ahmed Hill having strong performances in Outlaw’s debut and Hill’s return.
Pick: Virginia Tech 88, Maine 60
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