Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Adds Charlotte Bobcats To Schedule

Monday was a landmark day for the Virginia Tech basketball program, as the Hokies entered the Top 25 for the first time in over a decade. Today, coach Seth Greenberg announced that his team will take another step up in class. The Hokies have agreed to a February 6 matchup with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

The extra game is part of the program’s effort to add more teams from North Carolina to the schedule. Virginia Tech is 6-0 against schools from the Tar Heel State after Saturday’s 94-88 victory over then-#1 North Carolina. Zabian Dowdell scored 23 in making sure that the Tar Heels’ stay atop the polls would only last one week. Some considered the upset inevitable, as the college sports gods seem to want Florida to be on top of everything these days. As further proof of that, David Beckham has reneged on his agreement with the Los Angeles Galaxy to suit up for the Gator soccer team.

The Hokies were far more popular in Chapel Hill a week earlier, when they knocked off then-#5 Duke 69-67 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game plan worked to perfection, as the Virginia Tech guards consistently got open to receive passes from Duke’s Greg Paulus. The other victim in Tech’s 3-0 ACC start was Wake Forest, to go with non-conference wins over Appalachian State, Campbell, and UNC-Greensboro. The Hokies still face a return showdown at UNC, plus two matchups with NC State. In the meantime, North Carolina governor Mike Easley has already labeled Greenberg as an enemy of the state.

Virginia Tech’s perfection against the North Carolina schools continues a less-surprising pattern established in the fall by the football team. Frank Beamer’s squad was 3-0 against the state, highlighted by a 27-6 blowout of ACC champion Wake Forest. The Hokies routed UNC and Duke by a combined 71-10. According to Beamer, the key to those victories was “scheduling UNC and Duke in football.”

While the basketball team is proud of its upsets of Carolina and Duke, it has been maddeningly inconsistent against programs from outside NC. Most puzzling were losses to Western Michigan and Marshall. However, the Thanksgiving defeat to WMU was understandable upon further reflection. Hokies are turkey-like birds, so the players were likely distracted by the fear of being roasted and eaten by dysfunctional families. The loss to the Thundering Herd resulted because it came a week after the release of We Are Marshall. The inspirational tale tanked at the box office, so Greenberg wanted to do what he could to lift the spirits of Huntington, West Virginia.

The February 6 contest at Charlotte Bobcats Arena was added after a review of both teams’ schedules. Virginia Tech had a week off between a February 3 visit to Boston College and a February 10 home matchup with Virginia. The Bobcats face a game in Miami on the 5th and may be weary after taking on Dwyane Wade and the defending champs. However, they can fully rest on the 7th, as they play Philadelphia.

The Bobcats were eager to face the Hokies because its players have experienced great success against college competition. At 12-24, Charlotte is currently last in the Southeast Division. However, five current Bobcats (Raymond Felton, Sean May, Emeka Okafor, Jake Voskuhl, and Derek Anderson) won NCAA championships. Even a great college team can’t compare to the rigorous competition of the NBA, so those players are heavily favored to experience that winning feeling on February 6. However, the Hokies do have one major reason for optimism. The last time Adam Morrison played against college guys, he ended the game in tears.

In the meantime, next on Virginia Tech’s schedule is Wednesday’s trip to Florida State. In preparation, Greenberg has devised a brilliant strategy for his team. He’s convinced them that Tallahassee is a suburb of Raleigh.