• For those of you who haven’t gotten around to flipping over your calendar yet, it is now February. And as any fan of college basketball knows, it is now crunch time, time to put up or shut up. And for the Virginia Tech Hokies, what better way to tip off this all important month than a home date with the defending, yet recently downtrodden, national champion north carolina tar heels? Furthermore what better way to start the key stretch of this season with four of the next five games in the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum? A win over unc certainly gets the ball rolling on the final push of the Hokies ’09-10 campaign to end up on the right side of the bubble line. It also gives them great confidence going into Saturday’s next big game against clemson.
One slight problem, coming off last Sunday’s 75-60 home loss to the uva cavaliers, the struggling but still very talented tar heels will be looking at this game as a “must win game in order to salvage their season”. With the tar heels sitting at 2-4 in the ACC with a trip to maryland looming Sunday before returning home to face duke next Wednesday, unc could be staring straight at an almost unheard of 2-7 conference start as well as dwindling chances of even making the big dance, unless they can pull out a win in Blacksburg. They’ll be circling the wagons for sure.
Recent history shows the Hokies do not fare well when facing teams in this situation. The most recent example of this came last Sunday as Tech dropped an 82-75 contest to a miami team that had been reeling with four straight losses, and had to have a home win over the Hokies to have any chance of making any kind of noise this season. Knowing this full well going in, Virginia Tech still came out lacking the sense of urgency needed to win any road game in the ACC much less to win a road game against a desperate team like the canes.
Hopefully an inspired and raucous crowd in the Cassell can help the Hokies get off to the fast start they will need in order to make an early statement in this game and not let carolina gain any confidence and remind them that they were just blown out at home by uva. This will be extremely important because if Tech comes out slow and unable to knock down shots, the tar heel team that blew past n.c. state last week in Raleigh or knocked off #5 michigan state in December could make an unwanted appearance.
Virginia Tech can make great strides to a NCAA bid by winning four out of five over this next stretch, and a win over the defending national champions does nothing but strengthen your resume.
• I’ve heard a lot of talk recently that Virginia Tech’s biggest rival was becoming more and more the miami hurricanes and less and less the uva cavaliers. This talk is stirred on mostly because of the struggles of the wahoo football team and the fact that the Hokies dominated the series over the last 10 years with many of those games blow outs. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a win over “the u” as much as the next guy, but a win over the arrogant and elitist wahoos in any sport still has that extra oompth and still gives me great sense of pride as an alumni.
While the football rivalry between the Hokies and canes may have been much more competitive over recent years, I firmly believe that any school’s main rival should encompass all sports, whether that sport be football, basketball, debating or bass fishing. That being said, take a look back at last week when the Hokies hoops team faced back to back road contests against uva and miami. Ask any Hokie fan if they would trade Tech’s gritty come from behind overtime win over uva for a win at miami, and I think you would get a resounding NO across the board. Therein lies the answer to who the Hokies main rival is. And as for me, I can’t wait to knock off those hated wahoos again in the Cassell come February 13.