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Hokies Have Had Success Against #1 Teams
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #473, February 25, 2011
Virginia Tech has faced the #1 team in the country seven times since their win over Memphis State in 1983, and they've managed to come away with a win in three of those meetings. Three of the four losses could have gone either way, and overall the Hokies have played the top team in the rankings very tough throughout the years.
The Hokies will have another opportunity to play the #1 team in the land on Saturday night. With ESPN College GameDay in town, this is arguably the biggest game in the history of Cassell Coliseum. If history is any indication, it should be an outstanding basketball game.
It took 13 years for the Hokies to face another #1 team, and this was the only time Tech didn't play them close. Marcus Camby and #1 UMass beat Tech 74-58 in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies went on to lose to eventual National Champion Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while UMass had to eventually forfeit their Final Four appearance from that season.
Tech didn't face another #1 team until they joined the ACC. On December 4, 2005, Coleman Collins tipped in what seemed to be the game-winner with 1.6 seconds left at #1 Duke. However, the Blue Devils inbounded and Sean Dockery hit a 40-footer at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils a 77-75 win in Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Hokies, and they never recovered that season.
The next time the Hokies faced a #1 team, it was a different story. UNC came to Cassell Coliseum on January 13, 2007, and were beaten by the Hokies 94-88. Virginia Tech controlled the game, leading by more than 20 points for much of the way. The Hokies went on to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament that year.
UNC was ranked #1 the next season when the Hokies faced them in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. Despite playing with a very young team, Virginia Tech was on the bubble, and victory over UNC would have been huge. However, it was Tyler Hansbrough who hit the game-winning shot, as UNC pulled out a 68-66 win. The Hokies didn't do enough to impress the Selection Committee, and they were sent to the NIT.
The next season, Virginia Tech got two chances to knock off the nation's #1 team. Wake Forest was the only unbeaten team remaining on January 21, 2009, and the Hokies traveled to Winston-Salem for a big game. Tech controlled it from start to finish, winning it 78-71, and Wake's stay at #1 was short-lived.
Later that year, Tech faced #1 North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The game played out the same as the meeting a year earlier in the ACC Tournament, with both teams playing even. Like the previous meeting, North Carolina pulled it out in the final seconds, winning 79-76 and sending the Hokies to the NIT for the second year in a row.
The Hokies have a history of beating the #1 team, or playing them really close. Based on that history, expect nothing short of a great game in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday night.
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