• The Swing Game – Every season there are one or two games on the schedule that go a long, long way towards determining a team’s post season fate and in general how it will be remembered in the future. Saturday’s 1:30 contest in the Cassell against the boston college eagles is one such game for the Virginia Tech Hokies. Not that a win over bc will lock up any sort of post season bid by any means, or impress anyone in the national media, but a loss could be devastating.
A loss to the eagles, who come in at 11-8 and 2-3 in the ACC, would have the Hokies staring straight down the barrel of a 1-5 start in conference, with road games looming next week at first place uva and a miami team that will be looking to avenge the beat down they took in Blacksburg last week. And that’s before starting a two game home stand with unc and clemson, certainly no pushovers. This is a good Hokie basketball team who’s off to its best start in over 10 years, but that could be a hole they just couldn’t dig their way out of.
Anyone who looks at the bc game as a blow off guaranteed win should look no further than last Tuesday when the eagles came from behind to beat miami 79-75 in Coral Gables, FL. Reggie Jackson scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the comeback and Seth Greenberg has warned that he’s the kind of player who’s capable of taking over a game by himself. Hopefully a well rested Hokie team will come out, inspired by the home crowd, and take it to bc much like they did to the canes. A win will brighten Virginia Tech’s prospects come March, or definitely keep the light burning.
• With their 72-30 mauling of north carolina central on Monday night, the Hokies closed their non conference portion of the regular season at 13-1. While none of these wins would be anything close to a stop the presses or lead story on Sports Center type of win, none were the type head scratching and down right humiliating losses that have plagued Hokie fans in past seasons. Before Greenberg took the reigns for the 2003-04 season, the Hokies would routinely and out of nowhere drop games to supposedly overmatched teams like radford, VMI, liberty, east tennessee state, and william & mary to name a few.
Even with Seth at the helm there have been some dubious out of conference misadventures. Recall losses to east carolina and old dominion in 03-04, VMI and western michigan in 04-05, bowling green and odu again in 05-06. Heck, even the Hokies last NCAA Tournament season of 06-07 included stunning losses to those pesky western michiganers and even the thundering herd of marshall. With “bad” losses like that on the resume, the talking heads on ESPN always seemed to follow up commentary of wins over the likes of unc or duke with “yeah, but remember this team lost to marshall or VMI”. That won’t be an issue this season.
This season the Hokies have also managed to avoid the types of heart breaking and gut wrenching losses early on that plagued last season’s squad. There have been none of half court miracles (xavier) or games that came down to the last half second either to see the opposition sink a buzzer beater (wisconsin) or the Hokies unable to convert when they had the opportunity to do so (georgia). Those kinds of losses can make you feel snake bitten and haunt the team to the point that they have a “what can go wrong now” attitude whenever there is a close game down the stretch, like pretty much every ACC game.
So, hopefully in upcoming seasons, the Hokies can score some bigger name out of conference wins, and Seth is committed to continuing to upgrade the schedule, but for now 13-1 o.o.c. looks pretty good all things considered, have allowed guys like Dorenzo Hudson and Terrell Bell to really develop their games further, and have put the Hokies in a position for success the rest of this season.