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Virginia Techís first year-and-a-half in the ACC has produced many magical and dramatic moments on the basketball court. The Hokies have had their fair share of close wins and close losses in that span. Last yearís team was known for their ability to pull out wins in the closing seconds of games, while this yearís team has lost a number of contests in the final seconds, until Tuesday nightís game against Georgia Tech.
Through 24 regular season ACC games, Virginia Tech has a record of 10-14. The Hokies finished 8-8 last season, started a disappointing 0-6 this year, and have since rallied for two consecutive victories. That 10-14 start is better than the vast majority of fans and analysts would have predicted for a team that had struggled for so many years in the Big East.
While it appears that the Hokies have regressed this season, letís take a deeper look at the statistics to see if this is the case. First of all, everyone knows the off-the-court issues that the team is going through right now, so there is no sense in spending much time discussing them. Weíll just say that the Hokies are short-handed and have no size on the inside, thanks to the injury to Robert Krabbendam and Coleman Collinsí family situation. Tech is 2-6 in the league this year, much worse than their 5-3 mark after eight games last season. But if you dig a little deeper, it looks like the Hokies have closed the gap a bit on the rest of the ACC.
During their inaugural season in the ACC, Virginia Tech lost ACC games by 34, 20, 35, 15 and 20 points. In five of their eight conference losses, the Hokies were blown out and never stood a chance. This year, things have been much different. They have only two wins on the season, but they have been beaten by double figures just once, the 13 point loss to Duke. Tech has been in every other game theyíve played. In scoring margin, the Hokies were -5.8125 per ACC game last season, and this year they have improved that statistic to -3.875.
Generally, teams that have digressed in the win column by three games over the course of one year do not improve in scoring margin, but the Hokies have done it despite not having anywhere near a complete team this season. If Virginia Tech had a full complement of players, that margin would have improved even more.
Virginia Tech has also improved its performance in road games this season. Last year Tech played poorly on many occasions on the road, either getting off to terrible starts that they could never overcome, or playing poor defense for the entire game and getting blown out. This year there have been fewer of those types of performances. Last season Virginia Tech dropped six ACC road games by an average of 14 points per game. Their three road conference losses this season have come by an average of just 5.66 points.
The Hokies have dropped road games to Duke, Florida State and Maryland, but had a chance to win each game. Duke beat the Hokies on a half court shot with 1.6 seconds remaining, while the Florida State and Maryland games were decided on free throws down the stretch. In their first season in the ACC, the Hokies lost by 35 at Duke and 15 at Maryland, so they have made some progress in keeping their composure on the road.
In the short time Virginia Tech has been in the ACC, Cassell Coliseum has become known as a very difficult place to play. But despite that reputation, Virginia Tech is just 7-5 in Blacksburg against ACC teams, and their seven wins have come by an average of just five points. In Techís five losses at home, they have lost by an average of 15 points. They were blown out last season at home by 34 (UNC) and 20 (Wake Forest), lost this season by three to UNC and five to Virginia, and then fell by 13 to Duke.
Meanwhile the Hokies have lost nine ACC road games by an average of 11.22 points per game. Thatís not a great stat, and it has certainly been helped by Techís last four ACC road games, none of which they lost by more than nine points. But it is interesting that the Hokies generally lose by more at home than they do on the road.
Itís also interesting that in road victories the Hokies are beating their opponents by an average of 5.66 points per game. In home wins, Virginia Tech is winning by five points per game, a little less than their margin of victory in road wins. Thatís not to say that the Hokies are a better team on the road. They obviously are not, especially when you compare their overall record at home and on the road.
The Hokies are finished with the first half of this season's ACC schedule, and the second will not be as brutal as the first. Here is a look at the first half of Techís ACC schedule:
The Hokies defeated the two weakest teams they played in their first eight ACC games. They also dropped very winnable games at home to North Carolina and Virginia. Here is how the second half of the season looks:
The overall record isnít much different and the conference mark is still solid, but the Hokies matchup better against many teams in their final eight games. Clemson is a poor shooting team that the Hokies are capable of sweeping, and Virginia Tech is a better team than they showed against Virginia earlier in the season. Tech will also get Florida State in Cassell Coliseum and stands a very good chance of winning that game.
Virginia Tech will have a tough road trip to Miami, but the Hokies swept the Hurricanes last season and there is no reason to believe they canít defeat them again this year. NC State is a very good team, but the Hokies defeated them in Cassell Coliseum last January.
There is not a single game the Hokies canít win from here on out. There is
also not a single game they canít lose. It should be a fun finish.
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