GAME NOTES: The 15th-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies and the 10th-seeded Miami- Florida Hurricanes will square off in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Wednesday afternoon.
The winner advances to the second round on Thursday to take on seventh-seeded NC State.
Virginia Tech (9-21, 2-16) suffered through a horrific regular season. The Hokies have only one win since the calendar turned over, and that came on Feb. 15 against Miami (52-45). The Hokies resided in the ACC basement with only two league wins this year and enter the postseason with a six-game losing streak in tow.
Coming off an ACC sweep last season (regular and tournament titles), there was nowhere to go but down for Miami. Just how far the Hurricanes actually fell may have been a bit of a surprise though, as they finished just 7-11 in league play and are just a game above .500 overall (16-15). They bring some momentum into the tournament however, with wins in four of their last six games.
Surprisingly, Virginia Tech has had Miami's number this season, with its only two league wins coming against the Hurricanes. Miami still leads the all-time series by the slimmest of margins, 13-12.
Virginia Tech's losing streak extended to six games following its 62-51 setback at Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale last Saturday, as it shot just 37.7 percent from the field (including 6-of-23 from 3-point range). Overcoming the struggles of most of his teammates was Joey van Zegeren, who shot 9-of-17 from the field for 21 points to go with seven rebounds.
The Hokies finished 13th in the league in scoring at just 63.2 ppg, last in the league in field-goal percentage (.406) and 14th in scoring margin (-4.1). Compounding the problem for Tech has been a number of injuries, including players like Cadarian Raines (5.3 ppg) and C.J. Barksdale (8.1 ppg) questionable for the start of the tournament and Adam Smith (11.0 ppg) out. The healthy players that head coach James Johnson will need to rely on are Jarrell Eddie (13.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Ben Emelogu (10.7 ppg).
The Hurricanes ended the regular season on a high note with a strong 69-56 home victory over Wake Forest, enjoying one of their best field-goal shooting performances of the season (.520) while dominating on the glass with a 38-19 rebounding advantage. Garrius Adams shot 6-of-8 from the field and knocked down all nine of his free-throw tries for 22 points. Rion Brown netted 19, Erik Swoope scored 10 and Manu Lecomte handed out six assists.
Miami finished dead-last in the conference in scoring (61.7 ppg), which negated its usually strong defensive play (fourth in the league in scoring defense at 59.5 ppg). Scoring depth was a big issues for Jim Larranaga's squad this season, as the 'Canes lacked options at the offensive end. Brown and Adams did what they could at 15.4 and 10.4 ppg, respectively, but the scoring pool dried up quick after that, with LeComte ranking a distant third in the scoring column at just 7.9 ppg.
Virginia Tech will have an unusually high level of confidence for a 2-14 squad heading into this matchup considering its season sweep of the Hurricanes, but with Miami having turned things around a bit, expect it to avenge those earlier losses.
Game Date and Time