For the first time in a decade, the Virginia Tech Hokies are headed to the NCAA Tournament, but they head to the Big Dance with no current VT players having any NCAA Tournament experience, something that usually is a big red flag for jumping onto the biggest stage in college basketball.
The good news is that the Hokies are led by a man who has proven he knows how to win in March, Buzz Williams.
Buzz Williams had plenty of success in his 6 years at Marquette that included five NCAA Tournament appearances. However, Buzz’s Marquette teams almost always did well in the Big Dance with the Golden Eagles making a few deep runs.
In those five appearances, Marquette won at least one game four times while also advancing to the second weekend three-straight years from 2011 to 2013 with his 2011 team getting to the Sweet 16 as an 11 seed. Buzz has proven he can build teams that can get into the NCAA Tournament and do some damage with his first team getting a first round win and a Buzz team only twice being upset, once as a 6 seed in 2010 by 11 seed Washington, and the other time in the Sweet 16 as a 3 seed falling to 7 seed Florida led by 2-time national champ Billy Donovan.
Buzz has shown that he can win deep into March with teams that are favored to go deeper into March or with teams that are flying under the radar as he did with an 11th-seeded Marquette in 2011.
Part of the success is due to how Buzz Williams teams play with tremendous energy and hustle that they seem to take to even the next level in the NCAA Tournament. While every team will be ready to play in March, Buzz Williams teams always seem to take it to the next level.
Of course, one benefit that Buzz Williams had at Marquette was that he was already at a winning program built,up by Tom Crean, but Buzz made them more consistently successful with those three-straight second weekend trips before missing out on the NCAA Tournament in his final year at Marquette.
This time, Buzz Williams leads a Virginia Tech team that has no players with NCAA Tournament experience and a program that has only been to one NCAA Tournament this century (2007). Buzz has the advantage of having some veteran players including Seth Allen who was at a Maryland program with a much better track record of basketball success his first two years but not even Allen made it to the Big Dance when he was at Maryland.
However, having Buzz Williams is an advantage as Buzz has proven not only astute in late-game situations but he’s also proven that he can win in March from his time at Marquette. Having a coach in Buzz who is very good at drawing up smart plays to get the ball to the guy he wants it to and being quite good at managing timeouts is definitely of great benefit for the Hokies in the NCAA Tournament.
Buzz has also proven that he knows how to prepare teams for the challenge of playing on the biggest stage in college basketball and not only get his team focused but also keep them relaxed enough to where they don’t get overwhelmed on the big stage.
While the Hokies do have a big experience disadvantage compared to Wisconsin, it is mitigated some by the fact that Buzz Williams is a proven winner in March. Virginia Tech fans may be nervous given their opponent’s Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015, but Hokie fans can have confidence in the fact that Virginia Tech has a proven winner in March in Buzz Williams.