During the final media timeout of Virginia Tech’s 47-45 upset of Virginia Sunday night, Coach Seth Greenberg decided to remind his young team just how good it would feel to break a four-game losing streak. A little over three minutes remained, and the Hokies were sick of falling on the short end of close games.
“You play as hard as you can for these last [three] minutes, and you will really feel something special at the end of this,” Greenberg said he told his players in the huddle.
The Hokies’ faces after the game confirmed what their coach had emphasized moments earlier. After 23 days, Virginia Tech finally got an ACC win Sunday night and perhaps righted a season that looked to be veering off track at an alarming rate.
Sophomore forward Jarell Eddie, who had eight points and a career-high 10 rebounds, called the victory “marvelous,” and said it provided a template for future success.
“We’re gonna go into all the games with the same mindset we did this game, knowing we can win this game,” he said. “Just breaking through the ice and getting that first win, it definitely feels good.”
Point guard Erick Green took the opportunity to thank his mother and father, who were seated behind Virginia Tech’s bench at John Paul Jones Arena. After scoring just three points in the first half on 1 of 5 shooting, Green said his parents were “in my ear” about taking it to the basket more as he was leaving the floor before halftime.
The junior delivered, scoring 12 second-half points before senior Dorenzo Hudson took over down the stretch to provide the finishing blows to the Cavaliers.
“We’ve been waiting for the W, but honestly, we’ve been right there. Nobody’s mad on our team, nobody’s down. I think the hardest thing is we’re just hurt because we’re right there,” Green said. “We just got to learn to finish it and I think this is a start that we’re finally learning to finish.. . .
“Hopefully this will get us back on track and get us going from here and hopefully we can turn this season 360 and get back to how we know we can play.”
Though the Hokies are still tied for last place in the ACC with a 1-4 league record, Virginia Tech’s first road win over a ranked opponent since February 2009 provides a sliver of hope to a season that seemed lost a few days ago. The Hokies moved up to No. 68 in the Ratings Percentage Index after sliding to No. 91 following their loss to North Carolina on Thursday.
With intriguing matchups against BYU (15-5 record; No. 56 in the RPI) and at Maryland (12-6 record; No. 96 in the RPI) this week followed by a marquee home game with No. 4 Duke next Thursday, who knows where Virginia Tech could find itself if it somehow manages to win all three of those contests.
It’s an unlikely scenario, but one that seems entirely more plausible after the performance the Hokies put on in Charlottesville Sunday night. After all, with this latest victory, Virginia Tech isn’t that far off the pace it set in recent seasons when it was cementing itself as the most discussed bubble team in the country around Selection Sunday.
Here’s how these Hokies stack up to Virginia Tech teams of the past five years in terms of RPI, strength of schedule, overall record and wins vs. the RPI top 50 and top 100 as of Jan. 23. Keep in mind the only season the Hokies qualified for the NCAA tournament under Greenberg came in 2007.
2012 – 12-7 record; No. 68 in the RPI; No. 41 strength of schedule; 0-5 vs. top 50; 3-5 vs. top 100
2011 – 11-5 record; No. 62 in the RPI; No. 82 strength of schedule; 3-4 vs. top 50; 4-4 vs. top 100
2010 – 14-3 record; No. 73 in the RPI; No. 232 strength of schedule; 0-2 vs. top 50; 3-3 vs. top 100
2009 – 13-5 record; No. 44 in the RPI; No. 45 strength of schedule; 1-3 vs. top 50; 4-3 vs. top 100
2008 – 11-7 record; No. 81 in the RPI; No. 108 strength of schedule; 0-2 vs. top 50; 3-4 vs. top 100
2007 – 14-5 record; No. 28 in the RPI; No. 34 strength of schedule; 4-2 vs. top 50; 5-3 vs. top 100