The sport of College Basketball took a serious hit with the pandemic of COVID-19 in 2020. With College Basketball and Virginia Tech basketball back, the 2021-2022 season looks to return its normal roots by tipping off strong. For the first time since 2019, the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament will be back in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York starting November 24th. Among one of those in participation are the Virginia Tech Hokies. They will be joined by the Iowa State Cyclones, Memphis Tigers, and the Xavier Musketeers. This will be the first NIT Season Tip-Off tournament for the Hokies since 2011.
The Hokies are coming off their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Hokies finished the 2020-2021 College Basketball season with an overall record of 15-7 as they also finished ranking 25th in the final AP Poll. In a shortened season, the Hokies averaged 72 points per game and allowed only 66 points per game. Most of the significant contributors will return in the upcoming 2021-2022 College Basketball season.
The Hokies are on a solid track of success as opposed to the opponents that they will face in the NIT Tip-Off Tournament. The Memphis Tigers accounted for their fourth consecutive 20-win season, but they haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2014. Memphis won the NIT Tournament this past season. Virginia Tech and Memphis have met 30 times in program history. The Tigers have won 18 of those 30 matchups. The last time they met on the court was on March 19th, 2005 when the Hokies lost at Memphis 83-62.
Iowa State is undergoing serious rebuilding after a disastrous 2-22 overall record and 0-18 record in Big 12 Conference play. From 2011 to 2018, the Cyclones have been to the NCAA Tournament all but once. Since then, Iowa State accumulated a 14-42 overall record, which forced the removal of Steve Prohm as head coach. It will take time for the Cyclones to be a legitimate national contender. The Hokies and the Cyclones have only twice in program history as the series is split 1-1. The last time, they met on the court was on November 27th, 2015 when the Hokies were dominated at the #4 Hokies 99-77.
This past season was the most difficult season for the Xavier Musketeers since entering into the Big East Conference in 2013. Last season, the Musketeers accounted for an overall record of 13-8 with a 6-7 record in Big East Conference play. They missed the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season. Before that, Xavier appeared in 18 of the previous 20 NCAA Tournaments including the 2018 Tournament where they came in as the #1 seeded team in the West. The Hokies have met the Musketeers 13 times in program history with the Musketeers taking the series nine times. Their last matchup was on November 21st, 2008 when the Hokies lost a heartbreaker at home 63-62.
This 2021 NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament will feature four distinctive programs that bought in a lot of success with their basketball programs. The Hokies will likely be the favorites to win the tournament due to their recent success, returning players and coaches, and the potential they will bring to the national level as well as their conference.