Nearly every college basketball team is going to throw up a stinker at some point in their non-conference schedule that makes people do a double-take. When such results happen twice in the same season, however, alarm bells are sure to go off and they are now ringing for the Virginia Tech Hokies.
While just about nothing is expected of Virginia Tech (7-5) this season — they were picked to finish last by a wide margin in the preseason ACC poll — a season-debut home loss to South Carolina-Upstate was enough to confirm most people’s fears over how bad the Hokies really were.
But a victory over West Virginia, as part of a three-game winning streak, turned the fans’ hopes around at least for a bit. The Hokies suffered no embarrassment in losing to then-no. 1 Michigan State on a neutral floor, and after winning non-conference games against Furman, Radford and Winthrop, Virginia Tech actually went to the top of the conference (albeit in the only game played to that point) with a 61-60 overtime win at Miami.
So, there was perhaps reason for hope that this season wasn’t going to be as bad as many thought in Blacksburg. However, a 30-point loss to VCU on a neutral floor was a stark reality check. On Saturday, the Hokies fell at home to unheralded UNC-Greensboro 55-52.
The Spartans are a mediocre low major who only evened their record at 7-7 with the win. But, even that .500 record is deceiving. Prior to Saturday, three of UNC-Greensboro’s wins were against Division II schools. In their only other game against an ACC opponent, the Spartans were beaten by Wake Forest 59-51. The Demon Deacons were picked 13th in the ACC prior to the season, just two spots above Virginia Tech.
The victory at Cassell Coliseum was UNCG’s first away win of the season. A key factor in the home loss for Virginia Tech was a terrible night from Jarell Eddie, a forward who entered the game as the Hokies’ leading scorer at better than 18 points per game. Against UNC-Greensboro, Eddie was a dreadful 1-of-12 from the field and finished with a mere four points.
It was the first time this season that Eddie had scored fewer than 10 points in a game, and a far cry from the 34 he delivered in Virginia Tech’s win over Winthrop.
It’s hard to fathom any other ACC team losing to both USC-Upstate and UNC-Greensboro this season if given the opportunity, especially if both games were at home. Such results likely confirm what all the experts thought before the season: despite a win over Miami to open ACC play, Virginia Tech is in fact the worst team in the ACC.