Virginia Tech Hokies: 21-10, 10-8 in the ACC

Head coach: Buzz Williams (4th season)

Players to watch: Justin Robinson (13.8 PPG, 40.3 3PT%); Kerry Blackshear Jr. (12.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG); Justin Bibbs (13.1 PPG, 39.2 3PT%)

Season recap: Although Virginia Tech sits seven games back of its in-state rival and ACC leader Virginia, the Hokies have made more of a splash this season in conference play than their record might suggest. Virginia Tech is 4-3 against ranked teams in head coach Buzz Williams’s fourth season at the helm, including upsets of then-No. 2 Virginia on the road and then-No. 5 Duke in the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum late in the season. 

The Hokies are led by a pair of upperclassman guards who are both threats to score at any time from the perimeter. Junior Justin Robinson and senior Justin Bibbs each shoot roughly 40 percent from beyond the arc for a team that has averaged nearly the same mark from the perimeter. The ability to shoot from outside is a crucial part of Virginia Tech’s potent offense, which has averaged 80.2 points per game thanks largely to its conference-best 3-point shooting percentage. 

While the potential to get hot from downtown is always a boon in March, the Hokies will likely need their shooting to help overcome a chronic rebounding problem that has plagued them all season. Virginia Tech averages the third-fewest rebounds per game in the ACC, ahead of only the slow-paced Cavaliers and lowly Pittsburgh. 

The seventh-seeded Hokies earned a first-round bye and will face the winner of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game Wednesday. Virginia Tech defeated both teams in the regular season, including a road win against the Fighting Irish, but will likely have a tougher time against Notre Dame with the return of star senior Bonzie Colson, assuming the Fighting Irish make easy work of the Panthers. 

How they make a run: The 3-point threat becomes reality, and the Hokies ride strong shooting and tough defense to their second upset of Duke this season in the quarterfinals en route to a semifinal appearance.