Cardiac Hokies Squeak Out a Big One

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It’s January 22nd, and last night, in a surreal environment consisting mostly
of students in the crowd, Virginia Tech equaled last season’s win totals, with
their 14th overall win and their fourth ACC win. Holding the fort at home is
critical in the ACC, and with their 67-64 overtime win over the Maryland
Terrapins, the Hokies ran their season record in Cassell to 10-0, 3-0 in the
ACC. The train that leads to the NCAA tournament is still firmly on its tracks.

Last night was like a private party, invitation-only for Virginia Tech
students to come watch the Hokies play a big-name ACC school in the Terps. Due
to the icy weather across the state, the Tech athletic department opened up
attendance to any student with a valid ID, and Tech’s most raucous, energetic
fans showed up. And how. Attendance was approximately 7,500, and all but maybe
1,000 of that were students, decked out in orange.

I’ve often said that once the attendance in Cassell tops 4,000 or 5,000, it
gets loud, so the 2,500 empty seats were not missed, particularly when you
consider that the 7,500 that were there don’t have an OFF switch. Young people
never stop. They stand, they cheer, they bounce, and they don’t sit down. This
was the environment that Tech hoops fans dream about.

Every Maryland possession was serenaded with noise from all quarters of the
coliseum, not just the group behind the road basket; every fan stood for the
entire game; every dunk, steal, and score was cheered loudly; and when
“Enter Sandman” was piped into Cassell before Maryland’s last
possession of regulation, the students turned into a pulsating, screaming sea of

Barring another unusual circumstance like this one, it’s an environment that
won’t be seen again. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Hokies used to allocate half of
the coliseum to students, but those days are gone, making last night that much
more special.

Against that backdrop, the Hokies won a game that keeps what is quickly
becoming a special season on track. Tech notched their third straight win over a
ranked team, a Terp outfit that is athletic, experienced, and hard to figure.
Coach Gary Williams has put together a scary-looking team that gets up and down
the floor, rebounds, and shoots well, but somehow they’re