A Gym Rat’s Notebook: Are Tournament Hopes Legitimate?

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As the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team gears up for
the second half of conference play, and the stretch run in February that will
ultimately define this team, there are some statistics that illuminate the
surprising first half play of a team that few predicted would be in this
position. But, those statistics don’t tell the conclusive story, and in fact
there is other evidence that falls in the category of

There is no question that the Hokies, along with fellow
raft boat survivor Miami, have been the surprises thus far in the ACC, as well
as nationally. Tech has catapulted to fourth place in the conference, and three
of their four losses in conference play have come against the "Big
Three" of North Carolina, Wake Forest and Duke, who happen to occupy the
first three spots in the conference.

It was just about this time last year, at the beginning of
February when the Hokies faced Providence at home with an 8-10 record, that the
team started its unlikely late season run in their final Big East conference
season. The Hokies went into that Friar game with a 1-6 conference mark, and
were simply trying to win enough games to get to New York City and avoid another
Big East cellar dwelling finish. That team won six of the next nine to finish
14-13 (7-9 Big East) and make the BE Tournament, where they went 1-1.

This season, the expectations have been increased as the
team hits that same stretch run. Some are even daring to use the word that is
mostly unheard of around here in recent years. Is Virginia Tech a
"bubble" team? To suggest that does not necessarily become proof of
one’s losing contact with reality. While the NCAA tournament is still something
that is a definite long shot, one can make an argument that this team has an