Hokies Enter a Tournament “Already in Progress”

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Weird factoid of the day: By the time Virginia Tech takes the court tonight
against Wake Forest, seven teams — over half the conference — will already be
eliminated from the ACC tournament. Three teams will have two games under their
belt. How the Hokies respond to a tournament well under way is the key storyline
for tonight’s game.

If you missed Wake’s game against Georgia Tech last night, you missed a good
one. Any time two teams go to double overtime and both top 110 points, it’s a
fun one to watch … unless, of course, you like defense.

There’s a natural inclination to take what happened last night between Wake
and GT and try to apply it to a possible outcome tonight between Wake and VT.
Don’t. For one, neither one of those teams played defense last night. The Deacs
hit 16-of-23 three-pointers (that is not a typo), and some of them were
great shots under pressure, but they’re not likely to get those open looks
against the Hokies again tonight. If they do, they’re not likely to hit 69.6%
again. You just can’t do that two games in a row.

That last statement has the feel of “famous last words” about it,
and we’re reminded that Clemson put two good three-point performances together
against the Hokies in the last two years in Cassell Coliseum. Clemson hit
23-of-41 three-pointers (56%) in Cassell the last two years, including a
combined 17-of-22 (77.3%) in the second halves of the two games. Remarkable
shooting performances can be strung together, but having said that, I like the
odds of Wake looking a little more human from three-point range than they did
last night.

Tournament play is a crapshoot, as Maryland, Duke, and Georgia Tech found out
yesterday, particularly Maryland. The Terps came in red-hot, a not-so-dark-horse
to win the whole thing, but by 4:30 Thursday, they were making plans to travel
back home. The way Wake Forest played last night, they look like they could go
all the way themselves, except for the pesky defense thing.

Last night’s performance might spur Wake to more of the same, or they may
have just spent all the collateral they have. We won’t