Hokies Headed to Memphis for Round 2 of NIT

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Hokies Headed to Memphis for Round 2 of NIT

After a number of different reported times and locations,
the National Invitation Tournament committee decided to hold the second round
game between Virginia Tech and Memphis in the FedExForum in Memphis on Saturday
(March 19) at noon (11 am in Memphis). The ESPN
web site
is listing the game on ESPN2.

The University of Memphis Tigers defeated Northeastern
University in the first round of the NIT 90-65. Memphis could not find its
stride during the regular season, losing to big-name teams such as Syracuse,
Maryland, Pittsburgh and Texas.

During
the conference schedule stretch, Memphis defeated No. 9 Louisville at one point,
but found itself on the short of the stick against a team like 9-21 St. Louis (RPI
181). The Tigers’ tumultuous regular season left them 16-14 heading into the
Conference USA Tournament.

Head coach John Calipari’s team really turned it up,
reaching the finals of the tournament against No. 4 Louisville. Freshman
standout Darius Washington Jr. had a chance to upset the Cardinals to earn an
automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but missed his final two free throws with
no time remaining in the 75-74 loss.

In the first round win at home, Washington Jr. received
ample praise from the crowd of 7,392 on his first trip to the free throw line.
That same home crowd could have a big influence on the Hokies this coming
Saturday.

The news of a road trip is not welcome for VT. Tech has
lost its last six games on the road, dating back to a February 5th victory at
Miami. The Hokies are 3-10 outside of Cassell Coliseum this season, so the
numbers are not in their favor. However, it is not impossible for the Hokies to
win tough basketball games on the road (see Georgia Tech on January 22nd).

The road the Hokies are taking in hopes of reaching
Madison Square Garden is shaping up much like their road in 1995. Tech began
with Clemson at home in the first round, and after dispatching the Tigers from
South Carolina 62-54, they headed north to Providence in a game that most
thought would be an uphill battle. Tech cruised to a 91-78 win over the Friars
in what the Tech players described as their second-best effort of the year (an
82-55 win over Xavier being their best) and returned to Blacksburg to take on
New Mexico State, and the rest is history.

Overall, the Hokies are 12-17 against Memphis (formerly
Memphis State University). All 29 games came in a 15-year span stretching from
1976-1991. VT won four of the last five meetings, including the final game, an
82-79 victory in the final regular season game ever played in Memphis State’s
old Mid-South Coliseum (Mar. 2, 1991).

It is not likely any players in Saturday’s game know the
storied past the two schools have, especially in the 1980’s, but many Hokies
and Tigers watching the game will be reminiscing throughout.

For the
entire NIT bracket, click here