Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
With Virginia Tech now staring a sub-.500 record down square in the face, head coach Mike Young was asked after the Hokies’ (10-10, 2-7 ACC) demoralizing home loss to Miami if he ever envisioned his team being in this position.
His answer? A slight shake of the head, in utter disbelief of what had just taken place on the hardwood.
Putting that aside momentarily, the maroon and orange are in quite the predicament. A situation that will already be hard to rebound from is about to get much tougher.
The reason? The Donald L. Tucker Center and the Florida State Seminoles (13-6, 6-3 ACC) await the starstruck Hokies. Virginia Tech prepares to do battle in a building where it hasn’t left with a win in more than 30 years.
Game Day Information
When: Saturday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m. ET
Where: Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, FL
PXP: Dave O’Brien
Analyst: Cory Alexander
Series History: Florida State Leads 36-22
Last Meeting: Florida State Won 74-63 on Feb. 1, 2020
Line: Florida State -2
Last Time Out
So what exactly made Wednesday night’s loss to Miami that mortifying for Virginia Tech to endure? If you look up a collection of Barstool Sports, ESPN, NCAA March Madness, and many more recognizable accounts on Twitter, it won’t be hard to find.
When the Hurricanes inbounded the ball with 1.8 seconds left in the contest, all knotted up at 75, it would have taken a mere miracle to prevent overtime inside Cassell Coliseum.
As it turns out, it was Miami’s lucky day.
Star guard Charlie Moore came off a screen, took one dribble, and fired up a prayer from mid-court as the buzzer sounded. As it did, Keve Aluma threw his hands up in the air. Nahiem Alleyne sagged his head down towards the ground, and Storm Murphy looked on in dismay. The Hurricane bench exploded, as Moore’s shot banked off the window and found its way through the bottom of the nylon, giving the ‘Canes a shocking 78-75 victory over the stunned Hokies.
What stings even more, is that Virginia Tech played well enough across the board to win the game.
The Hokies shot a strong 50% both from the field and beyond the arc, went 80% from the charity stripe, committed just two turnovers in the second half and outrebounded Miami 28-22 when it was all said and done.
Young’s team may have played their best game of the season in terms of shot contestation. But Miami still was able to find the bottom of the net all evening long, using that to will its way to a big-time win in Blacksburg.
Four members of the maroon and orange tallied double figures. But it was all for naught.
Now, can Virginia Tech get off the mat and find a way to save its season in the Florida Panhandle?
Scouting Florida State
It’s been since 1990 when the Hokies were last victorious in Tallahassee.
They’ve lost six straight in general to the Seminoles and haven’t beaten FSU since 2016.
So many years of heartache and disappointment have taken place inside the Tucker Center. To be fair, that’s been the case for quite a few ACC teams in recent years.
For a team that was picked to finish as conference runners-up heading into the 2021-22 campaign, the Seminoles had been a tad bit disappointing in the early stages of the season.
Up until this past Wednesday though, it seemed like they had caught their stride.
Guards like Houston transfer Caleb Mills (13.4 points per game) and true freshman Matthew Cleveland (10.4 points per game) had powered the ‘Noles to a six-game winning streak after an embarrassing 22-point loss to Wake Forest.
You can’t forget about Anthony Polite (9.6 points per game) either. Polite has been a true mainstay in Leonard Hamilton’s rotation the past few years.
A mid-week loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta certainly hurts, however.
Mirroring the rest of the league, it just seems like you don’t know what you’re going to get with this Florida State team.
FSU is still really good at home. It is still strong enough to make a run at an ACC crown. But at the same time, the Seminoles are still weak enough to expose some deficiencies from time to time as well.
With all that being said, at the end of the day, the Seminoles are still a really good basketball team.
Sure, they’re maybe not the top-20 team that many expected. But Hamilton’s team is still deep, and relies largely on guard play for offensive success.
Virginia Tech didn’t necessarily struggle with that against Miami just three days ago, so maybe there’s something there. Still, there’s no way you can pick against Florida State on its home floor.
The ‘Noles get back on track with a much-needed victory in the comfort of their own home.
Prediction: Florida State 77, Virginia Tech 66