Virginia Tech isn’t on the bubble this season, but they certainly aren’t that far away.
After falling to Duke 70-65 in overtime on Saturday afternoon, the Hokies fell to 4-10 in ACC play. But of those 10 losses, seven of them are by five points or less, including a number of heartbreakers. I think its safe to say that Saturday falls into that category, particularly for point guard Erick Green.
After getting beaten fairly handily by the Blue Devils at home three weeks, the Hokies went into Cameron Indoor and took every punch that Duke had to throw while landing a couple of their own, eventually taking a 58-55 lead with just over a minute left in the game thanks to a banked in three from Dorenzo Hudson. After a Mason Plumlee lay-in cut the lead to one, Green turned the ball over before fouling Austin Rivers and sending him to the free throw line.
Rivers hit one of two, giving Tech a chance to win the game on their final possession, but Green missed a jumper with three seconds left and Cadarian Raines missed a follow.
Duke took an early lead in the extra period, but Hudson had his toe on the three-point line on what looked to be a game-tying three. After Duke pushed their lead back to three on their next possession, Green had a layup bounce off the rim with nine seconds left.
So close, but yet, so far.
It could be the motto for Virginia Tech this season and, frankly, for the last five years under Seth Greenberg. There is a reason they have become synonymous with the bubble. I’m not sure there is a team in the country that has been as consistently competitive with as little success overall as this Virginia Tech program. It makes you wonder: what if JT Thompson and Allan Chaney were allowed to play this season? What if the players that were actually on the roster had been healthy the entire year?
And while its promising to see this group competing, it has to be frustrating for the good folks in Blackburg, VA.
Before I sign off here, it must be noted that Duke’s win over Virginia Tech on the road was much more impressive than their win over the Hokies at home. That’s not unique, either. Duke was in control throughout the game at Florida State but lost to them at home. They lost to Miami at home. They needed a 20 point come back against NC State at home. The only time they’ve been tested on the road in ACC play they came back from 10 down in the final two and a half minutes to beat UNC. (You remember that game, right?)
I wonder if that lack of a home court advantage has anything to do with this?