That win seemed to show that the roster Coach Seth Greenberg has assembled in two seasons has the athletic big men and gritty guards to play with just about anyone.
The Hokies have three potent back-court scorers in Dowdell, Jamon Gordon and Carlos Dixon. Sophomore forward Coleman Collins is a future star who blocks shots and gets great position on rebounds.
Tech has a pretty deep bench, bolstered by the addition of forward Jeff King, a tight end on the school's football team. Tech is second in the ACC in turnover margin in conference games. Defensively, the Hokies play tough man-to-man and are athletic enough to run a press effectively. How They Could Lose It All
In so many ways, this has been a breakthrough season for Virginia Tech. But before labeling the Hokies the tournament dark horse, keep in mind they lost this season to Virginia Military Institute, 72-68, on Dec. 4. And their 67-65 upset of Duke notwithstanding, they still suffered a trio of humiliating losses to ACC heavyweights: 85-51 to North Carolina on Dec. 19, 83-63 to Wake Forest on Feb. 5 and 100-65 at Duke on Jan. 30.
The Hokies at times have showed their youth, as their aggressive play has resulted in foul trouble. That's particularly troublesome in the front court, where Virginia Tech can't afford to lose sophomore Coleman Collins or freshman Deron Washington, its lone scoring threats in the post.
The Hokies don't shoot three-pointers particularly well and are ranked near the bottom of the league in foul shooting, both of which seem to be essential qualities for tournament success. It's not that hard to envision Virginia Tech pulling an upset in the quarterfinal round, but it's nearly impossible to see it reaching, let alone winning, Sunday's title game.
Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon are nearly interchangeable, and they take turns running the Hokies' offense. Dowdell, a sophomore from Pahokee, Fla., took over the point guard job last season and was second on the team in scoring and assists. He is quick and handles the basketball extremely well.
Dowdell has a long wingspan, which allows him to knock away passes. Because of his ability to shoot three-pointers and his willingness to take big shots, Dowdell also plays a lot at shooting guard. He became the team's first scoring option late in close games -- a role he validated with his late three-pointer to beat Duke.
Gordon, a sophomore from Jacksonville, Fla., started at two-guard as a freshman but also has run the point this year. He is Tech's best defender, ranking third in the ACC in steals.
Gordon has more than 200 assists in two seasons. He isn't as good of a shooter as Dowdell, but he's a better rebounder and is more athletic. He isn't a good option to handle the ball late in close games because of his poor free throw shooting.
ACC Tournament Section
• After 15 years, the Nation's Capital plays host to country's premier conference tournament.
• John Feinstein: In a glut of tournaments, this one still matters.
• Tournament info and records
• Bracket and schedule
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