Handicapping the Last Four Virginia Tech Basketball Games

Virginia Tech is in strong position to make the 2017 NCAA Tournament. [Credit: Harley Taylor]
As this basketball regular season comes to a close, the Virginia Tech Hokies find themselves in the tough position of uncertain fate. Have the Hokies done enough to get in to the “Big Dance”? There are four regular season games left for the Hokies, and each one holds a unique importance in their quest to get back to the NCAA tournament. Each game presents a different challenge for the Hokies as well.

The loss of Chris Clarke will no doubt loom large for the rest of the season as the Hokies shortened bench will create a unique challenge for Buzz Williams’s squad. In these four games, what is the realistic record fans can expect to finish out the regular season with?

Clemson: Game the Hokies need to win

Virginia Tech defeated the Tigers on the road earlier this season. This was a great road win for the Hokies and will be a game the committee no doubt circles. Clemson is a team that, at the moment, is on bubble to get into the NCAA Tournament. A win by either team will give them a leg up on the other in tournament seeding. The Hokies need to win this one not only to protect home court, which is important to the committee, but to say they are truly the better team.

In the earlier matchup, Chris Clarke was Buzz Williams’s answer to Jaron Blossomgame. Blossomgame did end up with 20 points but was not as  huge of a factor as he is in most games. Clarke’s absence could cause problems in trying to contain him. Seth Allen was the hero of the game leading the Hokies to a victory on the road. This game being played at Cassell is a definite plus for the Hokies. I believe the Hokies will use the home crowd and win this important game. 1-0

Boston College: Game the Hokies must and should win

The Eagles have struggled this season. Earlier in the season, the Hokies escaped a scrappy Eagles team. Boston College’s main scorers struggled against the Hokies in Blacksburg, but BC kept the game close behind a career game from Jordan Chatman. The Eagles are an entirely different team at home so if the Hokies allow Chatman to go off again, pairing with some of the more stable scorers, Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, this game could go south very quickly.

This is a trap game for the Hokies, as a loss to the struggling eagles could seriously derail any hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. The committee is very much about what have you done for me lately. A late season “bad loss” would move the Hokies from definitely in to a bubble team faster than Buzz Williams sheds his sports coat. However, the Hokies take care of business and get the win. 2-0

Miami: A game the Hokies could afford to lose

The Hurricanes are another team who at the moment appear to be in the field of 68. The Hokies dropped a game to this tough opponent in Coral Gables earlier this season. The size of the Hurricanes as well as hot shooting ultimately was the undoing of Virginia Tech. The Hokies lack of size will be exploited by the Hurricanes yet again. However, if the Hokies can manage to get out on the shooters a little quicker, this is a winnable game. The Hokies will need to lean heavily on their guards to get up and down the floor to wear the big guys of Miami down.

This is another game where the winner will have a leg up on the other when it comes to seeding in the tournament. The Hokies once again will need to defend their home court. A win against a quality opponent late in the season will propel the Hokies into the tournament for sure. However, I think the size difference might be too much for them to overcome. They unfortunately will drop this game, putting them closer to the bubble than they would like. 2-1

Wake Forest: Game the Hokies need to win

Wake Forest is an up-and-coming team in the ACC. Danny Manning has the Demon Deacons playing some of the best ball in the conference. They have big wins in conference but unexplained losses as well. Does this sound familiar Hokie fans? The Demon Deacons come to Blacksburg at the end of a tough stretch of games. Wake Forest also has three players that average double-digit points. The Hokies depth will once again be tested as the Demon Deacons will certainly put pressure on the Hokies to stay out of foul trouble.

Wake Forest has moved from the bubble as one of the “last four in” to out of the tournament. My opinion is they won’t get in, unless something strange happens. However, that will not stop Manning’s team from playing extremely hard as they make a push to get in the tournament. A loss in the last regular season game would hurt the Hokies chances on Selection Sunday. This is a fact which will not be lost on the coaches and I look for the Hokies to rise to the occasion. The Hokies will win this game and finally cement their spot in the field of 68. 3-1

There you have it folks. In my opinion, the Hokies will finish the season on a winning note and play their way into the NCAA Tournament. If the season ends how I believe it will, the Hokies will finish the regular season with a 21-9 record and 10-8 in conference. Ten wins matches last season where the Hokies failed to make the big dance.

However, the difference this year is the non-conference where the Hokies only dropped one game. The strength of the ACC will surely help the Hokies especially if they make a run in the ACC Tournament as well. I think Virginia Tech will be playing in the big dance for the first time under Buzz Williams. The Hokie hoopsters need to steal a line from the football team and just go 1-0 each game. If they do that, the rest will take care of its self.

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