Virginia Tech showed they belong by giving a severely under-seeded Wisconsin team all they could handle.
When the Hokies drew Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin on Selection Sunday, everyone knew they were in for a fight. When the game finally tipped off on Thursday night, that is just what they got.
Justin Bibbs gave fans something to be excited about early, opening the scoring with a 4-point play. Virginia Tech and Wisconsin then traded the lead for the first ten minutes. A Bronson Koenig 3-pointer gave the Badgers the lead at the 11:49 mark of the first half, a lead the Hokies would never overcome.
The Hokies went out of the tournament the same way they got in: scratching, clawing, and fighting. Unfortunately, the same Achilles heel reared its ugly head: rebounding.
Virginia Tech was predictably destroyed on the glass by Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. The Hokies were out rebounded 37-25, including 17 offensive rebounds for the Badgers. This is not a new phenomenon for the Hokies, so sticking around was no surprise, despite being out-sized.
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What did surprise was the 3-point shooting of Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig. Every time the Hokies would get a sniff of the lead, Koenig would bury a three. Some were wide open, some were covered well, but it did not seem to matter to Koenig, who was unconscious from downtown.
Despite being matched up with long and talented big-men for most of the game, Zach LeDay kept his team in it, going for 23 points. Ty Outlaw did his part as well, scoring 16 points on 4-7 shooting from behind the arc.
As for senior Seth Allen, a toe injury sent him to the locker room in the first half. He was able to eventually return and valiantly give the team 25 minutes of play. Despite the injury visibly hindering him, Allen adjusted his game, dishing 6 assists to go with 10 points.
Though many thought the Hokies had a chance to win this game, it was great to see them send off Zach LeDay and Seth Allen with such a gutsy performance. The way they responded to multiple setbacks and what seemed to be insurmountable circumstances reflected the season as a whole.
Hokie Nation is definitely going to miss watching these two play, but can also look to the future and know that it is bright for Virginia Tech Basketball.