The Virginia Tech basketball team will take on Florida in the first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
What: Virginia Tech Hokies (15-6, 9-4 ACC) vs. Florida Gators (14-9, 9-7)
When: Friday, March 19 at 12:15 p.m. ET
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana
For the fourth consecutive year, the Hokies are in the NCAA Tournament and are positioned to make a run if they can get off to a quick start.
It’s been two years since we’ve had March Madness but it’s almost here. After a strange year with the pandemic and COVID pauses, we’ve finally made it.
Was Virginia Tech disrespected by being given a 10 seed? Maybe so. I think that they deserved a higher seed but it’s possibly a blessing. In many predictions, they were picked to be an 8/9 seed and that position would most likely have to go face off against the one seed in just the second round.
Hopefully, the feelings of disrespect and being overlooked will light a fire under this team to make a deep run in the big dance.
Florida is coming into the game having lost three of their last four and are the seventh seed in the tournament. In their last game, they fell to Tennessee in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament with the final score being 78-66.
Keys to a Virginia Tech basketball win
Virginia Tech will want to get off to a hot start, Tech doesn’t want to be playing behind for long periods in this one. In the game against UNC, the Tar Heels went on a long run and created a point difference that was too much for the Hokies to overcome. They’ll want to avoid giving up any sustained runs in this one.
Strong defense will be important, this is a Florida team that knows how to score points. The Gators are averaging 74 points per game, keeping them under that will be a huge boost for the Hokies. Florida hasn’t won a game this year when they score 71 points or less.
On the offensive side, getting Keve Aluma on the scoreboard early will be important. In the loss to UNC, he disappeared for much of the first half, that can’t happen in this one. Aluma has only scored single digits in four games this season, in those four games, Tech has a 1-3 record.
It’s been a while since these two have faced each other, with the last meeting coming in 1991. Virginia Tech came away with a 79-57 win in that contest.
Players to watch
Virginia Tech – Justyn Mutts put the team on his back in the ACC Tournament. Against UNC he had a career game and the best of the season. He should be coming into this game with a ton of confidence after that one. He’s averaging 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Florida – Tre Mann is the leader for the Gators. The sophomore has started all 22 games he’s seen action in. He leads the team in minutes, points scored, defensive rebounds, and is second on the team in assists. He’s also averaging 16 points a game.
The winner of this game will play either the No. 2 seed Ohio State or No. 15 seed, Oral Roberts, in the second round.
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