Image Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics
For the fourth straight season, Virginia Tech men’s basketball is going dancing.
Seeing your name called on Selection Sunday is a privilege, and one the Hokies (15-6, 9-4 ACC) will not take for granted.
When Virginia Tech’s logo appeared in the South Region’s bracket with the No. 10 next to it, the logo on the other side was an exciting one to see for a lot of Hokie fans.
Virginia Tech will face off with the seventh-seeded Florida Gators in the first round of the NCAA Tournament from a venue many Virginia Tech fans were also thrilled about. Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis will be the site for the Hokies and Gators, and we should have a good one to tip off the round of 64 at 12:15 p.m. ET on CBS.
Game Day Information
When: Friday, March 19, 12:15 p.m. ET
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
PXP: Jim Nance
Analyst: Bill Raftery, Grant Hill
Sideline Reporter: Tracy Wolfson
Series History: Virginia Tech Leads 5-4
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech Won 79-57 on Dec. 28, 1991
Line: Florida -1
A Season To Remember
Virginia Tech basketball defied the odds this past season.
The Hokies were picked 11th in the league in the ACC preseason poll, but that turned out not to be very accurate.
Virginia Tech was one of the biggest surprises nationwide this season, finishing third in the ACC with head coach Mike Young taking home the title of ACC Coach of the Year.
In a span of just two years in Blacksburg, Young has guided the Hokies back to the NCAA Tournament — an outstanding achievement considering Virginia Tech only had four scholarship players when Young arrived on campus in April 2019.
A lot of the success this year sorely relies on the development of Wofford transfer Keve Aluma, who followed Young from Spartanburg to Blacksburg. Aluma was named second-team All-ACC for his efforts in the Hokies 15-6 campaign, and led the team in both points and rebounds with 15.6 points a game and eight boards per contest.
The combination of Tyrece Radford (11.9 points per game) and Deleware transfer Justyn Mutts (9.6 points per game) have also been true blessings to Virginia Tech this past season. Mutts has come on late especially for the Hokies, putting up a team best 24 points in Virginia Tech’s 81-73 setback to North Carolina in the ACC Quarterfinals.
The duo of Naheim Alleyne (10.3 points per game) and Hunter Cattoor (8.4 points per game) also have contributed big time this season to the Hokies’ success, especially behind the arc. Wabissa Bede’s defense as well up top for Virginia Tech has been menacing for opponents all season long.
“Chomping” At The Bit
Speaking of Bede’s defense, he’s going to have a real test in this one.
Florida guard Tre Mann has been outstanding for the Gators (14-9, 9-7 SEC) this season. The sophomore from right there in Gainesville has averaged a team-best 16 points this season, and can knock down a three at any given moment.
Colin Castleton down low will be matched up with Aluma all afternoon long; he averages 12 points a game and six rebounds per contest. Tyree Appleby and Noah Locke are also guards that can pose threats to Virginia Tech’s defense.
It’s been an interesting season for Florida. It started off with star player Keyontae Johnson collapsing face first at mid-court at Florida State in just the Gators’ fourth game of the season. He would thankfully be OK, but it is unknown if Johnson will ever be able to lace them up again.
Sixth-year head coach Mike White’s team earned the No. 5 seed in an average SEC this past season, and had a pretty balanced resume. That includes a beatdown 75-49 win over then-No. 6 Tennessee, but also a head-scratching loss to 6-15 South Carolina.
The Gators have historically been a solid basketball program. The Hokies will now try to get revenge after transfers like Dorian Finey-Smith, Jalen Hudson, and most recently Kerry Blackshear Jr. bolted to Gainesville.
This is arguably the best 7-10 match-up in the entire tournament. The betting line has currently been going back and forth between an “even” and advantage Florida by a mere point.
Most insiders are going with the Hokies though, and so are we.
Young isn’t ready for his team’s season to be over yet.
The match-up heavily favors Virginia Tech. Aluma will dominate the paint and Colin Castleton, and the Hokies will physically overmatch Florida throughout the afternoon that will catapult Virginia Tech to a win over the Gators and the right to face off against the winner of No. 2 Ohio State and No. 15 Oral Roberts in the round of 32 on Sunday afternoon.
Prediction: (10) Virginia Tech 73, (7) Florida 70