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ACC Roundup - Virginia Tech Draws First Blood

As the Irish fall on the road

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NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech
Jan 1, 2019; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies Justin Robinson (5) shoots the ball in the second half against The Notre dame Fighting Irish at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lee Luther Jr.
Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech and Notre Dame started the ACC season on Tuesday with about what you’d expect: an experienced, confident and talented Virginia Tech team had little trouble with the Irish, winning 81-66.

You can tell that his team is learning but Mike Brey has a very young group and on a big stage, they were hesitant and uncertain. You could see it on some open jumpers for instance - the shooters just lacked confidence.

And on a couple of occasions, on breaks there was some confusion.

These are things that can be overcome but it will take a while. There is talent to work with though and Brey has proven he knows what he’s doing.

If this game had been played at Notre Dame, it would have been a lot closer and Notre Dame might have pulled off an upset.

Not when Virginia Tech shoots 60% though. Not when Ahmed Hill and Nickeil Alexander-Walker both shoot 7-8. And not when you only force seven turnovers.

It’s just not a winning formula but despite the bad defense and the lack of confidence, the Irish hung around and were down by 11 with just under 4:00 to play.

They showed some heart in other words.

It may be an NIT type of year for Brey’s bunch but the infrastructure is there. They’ll be back.

No big surprise in Tallahassee as Florida State took down Winthrop 87-76. It’s interesting to note though that the Eagles missed their best player with an ankle injury and another key player tried to play through an injury but ultimately couldn’t do it.

Still, FSU enters ACC play at 12-1 with only a six point loss to Villanova and there’s no shame in that.

Next up for the ‘Noles is a trip to Charlottesville to measure themselves against the glacial Cavaliers Saturday. That should be really interesting because both teams defend well but Virginia never lets anyone run.

Three final tune-ups on Wednesday as Harvard visits Chapel Hill, Cornell treks to Winston-Salem and South Carolina Upstate challenges Georgia Tech in the former Thriller Dome.

It hasn’t been thrilling in a while but maybe it’ll come back. The only thrill in this game is likely to be a negative one if USCU makes it interesting.

And Georgia Tech has shown a tendency to do just that.

Meanwhile, the Big Red of Cornell visits Wake Forest and the Demon Deacons have proven to be very generous hosts lately. The Ivy League has been highly competitive this year and Cornell could give Wake fits, particularly if the Deacons aren’t focused. Worth noting: Coach Brian Earl is a Princeton grad and knows how to tie an inattentive team in knots.

Tommy Amaker, who is personally responsible for the improvement in Ivy League basketball, takes Harvard to UNC. He can tell his kids he was there for the very first game in the Dean Dome and can probably tell them a lot of stories about the aging big barn and UNC basketball.

This doesn’t appear to be a vintage Amaker team so UNC will probably run over them. Still...

Fight fiercely, Harvard! Fight, fight, fight!

Harvard @ UNC 7:00 ESPN2
Cornell @ Wake Forest 7:00 ACCNE
SC Upstate @ Georgia Tech 7:30 ACCNE
Tuesday's Results
  • Virginia Tech 81 Notre Dame 66
  • Florida State 87 Winthrop 76

ACC Standings

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