Virginia Tech Men's Basketball's ACC Schedule Released
BLACKSBURG, Va. - In Mike Young’s inaugural season at the helm of the Virginia Tech men’s basketball program, the Hokies were projected to finish 14th in the ACC. Young’s squad proved the doubters wrong and posted a tenth-place finish.
Tech started off strong in 2019, winning its first six games, including an upset of No. 3 Michigan State in the Maui Invitational. The Hokies cooled off in the second half of the season, though, winning just two of their last 13 games.
Enter 2020. Unparalleled circumstances have changed everything, including the college basketball schedule. For Young’s crew, that meant scheduled non-conference meetings with Oklahoma State, Davidson, George Washington and Marshall were pushed to the side.
Instead, the Hokies will host Radford to open the season on Wednesday, Nov. 25 before traveling to Uncasville, Conn. to play in the 2020 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at the Mohegan Sun. Tech will face Temple and USF in the tournament before returning to Blacksburg to host VMI and face Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
That catches you up to speed to Tuesday, Nov. 10, when the ACC released its conference schedule for the 2020-21 season.
Virginia Tech will open its conference schedule on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at home against Clemson. Tech swept the Tigers in two meetings last season, ironically in the first and last games of the regular season.
After the holiday season, the Hokies will host Miami on Dec. 29/30 - exact dates for midweek games are still being finalized by television - before a two-game road stretch to start the new year at No. 4 Virginia and Louisville. Tech will see all three of those foes twice in the ACC regular season.
Tech will return home to Cassell Coliseum in mid-January to host Notre Dame and No. 9 Duke. The Hokies will make a return trip to Notre Dame on Jan. 26/27, but the matchup on Jan. 12/13 against the Blue Devils will be the lone meeting between the two sides this season.
Though the front of the Hokies’ schedule is loaded with the Cavaliers, Cardinals and Blue Devils, all of whom tied for second in the ACC standings in 2019-20, having four of the first six games in Cassell Coliseum is a big plus.
While the schedule is heavy at both ends for Young & Co., the middle is rather promising.
A seven-game span from Jan. 17 to Feb. 6 features five road trips and two home games, one being vs. No. 4 Virginia on Jan. 30. Outside of the Cavaliers, only two of Tech’s six opponents over that stretch finished in the top half of the ACC in 2019-20 - Syracuse and Notre Dame, who the Hokies face back to back on Jan. 23 and Jan. 26/27.
Wake Forest, Boston College, Pitt and Miami are the other four teams Tech will play during that span, and all finished tenth (BC, Miami) or thirteenth (WF, Pitt) in 19-20.
Though five road trips in seven games is tough, it’s a stretch against middle of the pack teams that the Hokies posted a 3-8 record against last season. In the eight losses, outside of the 26-point loss to UVa in Charlottesville, the Hokies lost by an average margin of 5.57 points and two games went to overtime.
To summarize: though the seven games feature five road games and a lot of travel, they’re winnable games for the Hokies.
That leaves the back portion of the schedule, which might be the toughest stretch of games for the Hokies in 2020-21. A four-game slate features No. 21 Florida State twice, the second matchup of the season with Louisville and a road trip to the Dean Smith Center to face No. 16 North Carolina.
Tech knocked off the Tar Heels in a two-overtime thriller in Cassell Coliseum in January but fell to UNC by 22 in the ACC Tournament. Similarly, the Hokies lost to the Seminoles by 11 in Cassell Coliseum and to Louisville by 16 in the KFC Yum! Center.
If the Hokies are going to be a postseason team in Mike Young’s second season, that stretch will be the measuring stick.
After that stretch, Tech will have three games remaining against Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and NC State - all teams the Hokies beat in 2019.
As the Daily Press’s Norm Wood pointed out, Virginia Tech will travel to five different states over the last six weeks of the season, which adds up to over 3,000 miles.
The good news: Young should have a good feel for his team at the start of ACC play. Tech’s non-conference schedule is no slouch, with Temple, USF and Penn State on the docket.
With a solid complement of incoming transfers to complement the young returning talent, the Hokies should be able to compete in the middle of the pack in the ACC. Expect a few tough stretches here or there, but that’s life in the best basketball conference, right?
Photo Credit: Liam Sment