After a tough trip to Brooklyn, Virginia Tech went on the road and picked up a huge road victory in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge with a 62-58 win at a Maryland team that is a likely NCAA Tournament team and was in the preseason top 25.
So with that said, check out my three takeaways from the Hokies' 62-58 win over Maryland.
1. Virginia Tech Locks In A Quad 1 Win.
Yes, Maryland is a mess right now that parted ways with Mark Turgeon two days after the game and has an interim coach in Danny Manning, but the Terps have more than enough talent to be in the top 75 of the NET along with Manning being a competent coach even with his Wake stint notwithstanding.
This win comes in a year where the ACC is clearly down and may only get 6 teams or even fall into the 4-5 category given the early struggles in non-conference action. Of course, Duke has boosted the ACC a bunch while the ACC-Big 10 Challenge wins for the Hokies over Maryland and North Carolina against Michigan are a huge boost for the conference.
However, there may not be a lot of Quad 1 wins for the Hokies in ACC play and definitely not as many as we've seen in recent years. Given that and the lack of wins in Brooklyn, it was critical for Tech to win this game with only two more quality non-conference opportunities at Dayton and against St Bonaventure in Charlotte left.
When we look back in March, this could be a crucial moment in boosting the Hokies up a seed line or if they somehow end up on the bubble and not comfortably in the field, making sure Tech is dancing this season.
2. Hokies Show What Their Offense Can Be At Its Best
It was a slog for the first 30 minutes with the Hokies shooting poorly and only getting worse from the first half to the first 10 minutes of the second half. However, what we saw in the final 10 minutes was the offense coming together and working in perfect rhythm.
Tech's shooting woes suddenly started to disappear as the Hokies had players moving in complete rhythm while Tech's passing was crisp and exactly what the Hokies were needing. There were plenty of open shots found especially from three-point range with Hunter Cattoor in particular stepping up from three while Keve Aluma found more rhythm as well.
You can see the high level skill of the Tech offense and while Nahiem Alleyne and Hunter Cattoor have proven that they can be a slashing-type guard as time or Justyn Mutts at forward, the lack of Tyrece Radford showed some when Tech needed a slasher.
However, the Hokies showed the type of toughness and tenacity that a veteran team should finding their rhythm in terms of their offensive movement which set them up perfectly to break the slump and put together the best offense we've seen from the Hokies this season.
In that, we saw how high the ceiling of this Virginia Tech team can be and it's one that can have fans dreaming still of a deep NCAA Tournament run this season.
3. Point Guard Remains a Concern
Storm Murphy's Brooklyn struggles continued in College Park as he failed to make a shot going 0-4 while also making some bad errors including late in the game where he chose not take a three when he had a good look and then passed it into the corner where Hunter Cattoor was easily trapped and had to call a timeout.
Mike Young's concerns also seem to be rising as Young went with a trio of Nahiem Alleyne, Hunter Cattoor, and Darius Maddox for several stretches instead of having a true PG like Murphy despite Murphy not having any foul trouble. That right there seemed to be an indirect indication by Young of some of the worries that Tech fans have after Murphy's struggles in Brooklyn.
Murphy's past production is undeniable and so is his upside, but the question that is rising is whether Murphy's struggles at the ACC play are due a slump and some yips as my colleague Jay Anderson said on Twitter during the game, or if Murphy just isn't nearly as good as thought.
While I do think Murphy is better than what we've seen of late, the answer looks like a combination of both. On the positive, Sean Pedulla has shown promise especially against Xavier, but he also didn't have a great game against Maryland either and still has some work to grow though he might start to chip into Murphy's time soon if he can look more consistently like the guy who rallied the Hokies against Xavier.