Virginia Tech Hokies
2016-17 record: 22-11, 10-8 in the ACC
Head coach: Buzz Williams
Career coaching record: 206-134
Tenure at Virginia Tech: 4th season
Home court: Cassell Coliseum
Starters: G Justin Robinson, G Ahmed Hill, F Justin Bibbs, F Chris Clarke, F Kerry Blackshear Jr.
Bench: G Tyrie Jackson, G Wabissa Bede, G Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G Devin Wilson, F P.J. Horne, F Nick Fullard, G Justin Ammerman
Overview: This is an exciting time for Virginia Tech basketball fans, who look to head coach Buzz Williams' record at Marquette as a sign that his fourth season with the Hokies could be his best yet. Last year, Virginia Tech reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 and only the second time since 1996.
The 2017-18 Hokie squad—bolstered by junior Chris Clarke and a veteran core with NCAA tournament experience under their belts—seems capable of reaching a Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. Virginia Tech faces a major task, however, in replacing leading scorers Zach LeDay and Seth Allen, who scored a combined 29.8 points per game for the Hokies. Still, with neither of those two players starting for the Hokies last season, Virginia Tech finds itself in the unique position of returning four of its starters from an NCAA tournament team.
Although the strong band of returners—plus a pair of freshmen four-star guards—should keep the mid-September transfer of Khadim Sy from devastating Virginia Tech, the Hokies will likely lack a big defensive presence to protect the rim. 6-foot-10 power forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. could help in that department after returning from a leg injury that kept him off the court for the entirety of last season.
One thing that needs to go right: Clarke and Blackshear recover from their respective leg injuries and return to full strength in order to lead a team that would otherwise lack a star performer.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
One thing that could go wrong: An experienced Virginia Tech side cannot find a way to compensate in the paint after losing Sy. With no real defensive presence under the rim, stronger ACC opponents wreak havoc on the inside against the Hokies.