On Sunday evening, the Hokies learned their seeding, destination and opponent in the upcoming first round of the NCAA tournament. #5 seed Virginia Tech will take on #12 seed Illinois this Friday, March 16, in Columbus, Ohio. Tech is part of the West Region, and they will play in Nationwide Arena. Game time will be announced on Monday.
Virginia Tech fell to NC State 72-64 in the ACC semifinals on Saturday. They finished their season 21-11 overall. Their 10-6 regular season ACC record was good enough to get them the #3 seed in the ACC Tournament. The Hokies finished #27 in the RPI against the 22nd toughest schedule in the nation, according to RealTimeRPI.com.
Illinois advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals with wins over Penn State and Indiana. They were defeated by Wisconsin 53-41 in the semifinals on Saturday. They finished the season with a 23-11 overall record and a 9-7 record in the Big Ten. They are #31 in the RPI, and played the 24th toughest schedule in the country.
The Fighting Illini did not lose to anyone outside the top 100 of the RPI. Their worst loss came on the road to #97 Iowa 60-53. Nine of their other 10 losses came to teams ranked in the top 43 of the RPI. Illinois won four games over teams in the top 50 of the RPI this year. They defeated Bradley, Michigan State and Indiana (twice).
If Virginia Tech defeats Illinois on Friday, they will face the winner of the Southern Illinois/Holy Cross game on Sunday in Columbus. Southern Illinois is a #4 seed, while Holy Cross is a #13. Southern Illinois defeated Virginia Tech 69-64 in Orlando back in November.
The Hokies are advancing to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 1995-96 season. That year Tech was a #9 seed, and they advanced to the second round before falling to eventual National Champion Kentucky.
Virginia Tech owns a number of wins over teams who made the NCAA Tournament this season. The Hokies have defeated Old Dominion, Duke, UNC (twice), Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Boston College. All seven of those teams earned a spot in the field of 65.
Stay tuned to TSL this coming week for more coverage of Virginia Tech’s trip to the NCAA tournament.