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Hokies Report: One last Thursday

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Hokies Report: One last Thursday

Check back every Wednesday for the Hokies Report to get all the biggest Virginia Tech headlines for each week, a recap of last week's game and a look ahead at next week's contest.

Virginia Tech 4-5, (2-3) in the ACC

In the news

Foster interested in becoming the next head coach: While everyone is talking about Rich Rodriguez, Kirby Smart and Justin Fuente as possible head coach candidates, Bud Foster decided to throw his hat in the ring this week. When asked Monday if he was interested in replacing Frank Beamer, Foster told reporters, "You guys think? Yeah, I've put a lot of time and effort into this thing. I don't think this program needs a culture change."

Foster has spent his entire career working under Beamer. If he were to replace him, it would ensure Virginia Tech does not stray from the culture it has developed over the years in its glory days.

If the Hokies were still enjoying 10-win seasons, this would be an easy sell to athletic director Whit Babcock. Given the team's slip into mediocrity in recent years, however, don't be surprised to see Babcock look outside of the program for the next head coach.

#GameDay4Frank gains momentum: ESPN's College GameDay was in Tuscaloosa on Saturday for the big LSU-Alabama game. You would expect some great signs for such a big matchup, but the most retweeted sign was one for Virginia Tech:

The movement also got a boost with Michigan State's loss to Nebraska. One of the big matchups on Nov. 21 that could also be a candidate for GameDay is the Michigan State-Ohio State game. That is still going to be a huge game, but it has lost some of its luster now that it will not feature two undefeated teams.

The news that kickoff for the Hokies' game against North Carolina was set for noon, however, is a bad sign. The GameDay show runs until 12 p.m. Considering the game is being broadcast somewhere within the ESPN family, you would think the start time would be pushed a little later if Blacksburg was in serious consideration.

Granted, a game featuring a Virginia Tech team that will be 5-5 at best is not going to get a great TV slot, but it doesn't need to be a primetime game. Even a 12:30 kickoff would allow fans a chance to go from the set, wherever it may be, to the stadium. The only way a noon kickoff could possibly make sense is if they went truly old school and tried to recreate the atmosphere of the 1999 appearance in Blacksburg which actually took place in Lane Stadium. The added nostalgia of the atmosphere would seem appropriate.

Prospect decommits: Wide receiver prospect Phillip Patterson decommitted from Virginia Tech on Saturday, reopening his recruitment to all interested schools.

A prospect decommitting from a program is nothing new in this day and age. The process is so long that prospects often commit too early and then do what every 17/18 year old does: change their mind. This situation is noteworthy, however, as Patterson is the first commitment to back out since Beamer announced he was retiring.

Recruits shouldn't go to a school based on who the coach is given the turnover among college coaches, but they still do. With Beamer leaving, recruits who committed for the chance to play for him now have to reconsider. Whoever the next head coach may be will have a lot of work to do convincing recruits and current players alike to stick with the program.

Slye named semifinalist for best kicker: Kicker Joey Slye was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award on Thursday, presented annually to the top placekicker in the nation.

Slye has hit 15 of 20 field goal attempts this season and has been perfect on 27 extra point attempts. The sophomore tied a career-high in Virginia Tech's win over Boston College with four field goals.

RELATED: Cavaliers Report: One for the road?

Last week's game: Bye week

Next game: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, Thurs. 7:30 p.m. ET

Preview

In the last Thursday night game of Beamer's career (barring a Thursday bowl game, but those don't count) Virginia Tech heads to Atlanta to take on the triple option of Georgia Tech.

Coming off an 11-win season that saw them win the Coastal Division, the Yellow Jackets are not having the type of year they were hoping for. Georgia Tech is only 3-6 on the season with the only highlight being a miraculous homecoming win over Florida State. The emotional high of that win was short-lived, however, as Paul Johnson saw his team lay an egg in Charlottesville in a 27-21 loss to Virginia.

What should make Hokie fans worry about this game is the same thing that makes them worry every week: a mobile quarterback. The defense has been shredded this season by mobile quarterbacks and obviously as a triple option team, Georgia Tech has one in Justin Thomas. Last year, Thomas was able to rush for 165 yards and added another 125 through the air .

Because this game is on a Thursday, both teams were off on Saturday. The benefit of having more time to prepare for the triple option is a huge boost for Virginia Tech and you can be sure Bud Foster will put that time to good use. Foster has always been fairly successful in slowing down Johnson's offense which has helped the Hokies win four of their last five meetings. In four of those games, Georgia Tech has been held to 250 rushing yards or less.

The real key to this game, however, will be on offense and not on defense. Georgia Tech's offense is not setup well to play from behind. Virginia Tech was able to manhandle the best defense in the nation against Boston College, jumping out to what was an insurmountable lead. The offense needs to be aggressive early and take an early lead again. If they do that, they can concentrate on giving Travon McMillian the ball in the second half and working the clock. If you can build a lead and keep the ball out of the offense's hands, the Yellow Jackets won't be able to win.

The biggest issue for the Hokies will be keeping their emotions in check. This will be a growing issue from week to week, but Thursday will be the first game since Beamer announced his retirement. For a team that has had tremendous penalty issues all season long, the Hokies cannot allow their emotions to get the best of them.

Virginia Tech is 5-0 against Georgia Tech on Thursday nights. You know the team will head into Atlanta focused on keeping that slate clean.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Another week, another NFL-caliber QB faces Maryland

Bracketology Round-up: Who’s hot and ignoring the bubble

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USA TODAY Sports

Bracketology Round-up: Who’s hot and ignoring the bubble

Now is the time that teams need to make their late season push. Whether a team is in the tournament or otherwise, the games now matter more than ever.

Yet, it is the teams solidly in the field that have been slipping as of late. Rarely have we seen losses from teams on the bubble.

The last 10 days saw the four teams that many assumed were locks for a No. 1 seed all fall to an unranked opponent. None of the falls being quite as bad as Purdue’s who suffered through a three-game losing streak. Nearly across the whole board the Boilermakers only dropped to a No. 2 seed, but their margin for error is a lot smaller than many of the teams around them.

READ ALSO: VIRGINIA REMAINS No. 1 AS TOP 25 IS RE-SHUFFLED

Other Big Ten schools continue to rise with strong showings in conference play. Ohio State is now getting some love as a No. 4/ No. 5 seed and Michigan is not too far off either. The Spartans of Michigan State have begun to leapfrog teams that passed them in January as they are on the No. 2/ No. 3 seed line. 

Texas Tech rode a seven-game winning streak to now a emerge as a contender for the top-8 seeds in the tournament. Auburn has also snuck into that conversation as well.

The Virginia Cavaliers remained as the near-unanimous No. 1 overall seed from the following bracketologists. They rebounded with a solid road win at Miami this past week.

For these reasons, no one is worried about who is in and who is out of the tournament, unless of course your team is involved. The drama around the bubble, for now, is subdued.

For the mid-major fans, Wichita State (now in the AAC) is in the mix as well for a favorable seed. They grabbed their best win of the season at Cincinnati on Feb. 18 in a ‘prove-it’ contest for both teams.

But with all of the lesser Power 5 teams winning against top tier opponents, it is not helping many mid-majors that are floating around the bubble. St. Bonaventure, Temple, and even St. Mary’s basically all face win-out situations.

These projections are based on their latest bracket as of Feb. 19.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Ohio State

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Tennessee

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Wichita State

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Baylor, Texas, St. Bonaventure, and Syracuse
First Four out: UCLA, USC, Washington, and Nebraska

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Nicholls St./ Savannah State
No. 10: Virginia Tech (West, at-large) vs. No. 7 Alabama

Dave Ommen (NBC Sports/ Yahoo/ Bracketville):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 North Carolina
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Gonzaga

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Purdue
No. 4 Wichita State

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Tennessee

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Washington, Baylor, St. Bonaventure, and Syracuse
First Four out: UCLA, LSU, Louisville, and Marquette

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Southern/ Savannah State
No. 9: Virginia Tech (Midwest, at-large) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma

Shelby Mast (USA-Today):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Ohio State

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Clemson

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Wichita State

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 North Carolina
No. 3 Arizona
No. 4 Tennessee

Last Four in: St. Mary’s (CA), St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, and Washington
First Four out: LSU, Marquette, UCLA, and Utah

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Wagner
No. 9: Virginia Tech (Midwest, at-large) vs. No. 8 Michigan
Maryland (“On Life Support”)

Chris Dobbertean (SB Nation) – Updated on 2/16:

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Tennessee

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Kansas
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Gonzaga

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 West Virginia

West Region:
No. 1 Auburn
No. 2 Texas Tech
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Louisville, UCLA, Texas, and Baylor
First Four out: St. Bonaventure, USC, Temple, and Syracuse

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ)
No. 10: Virginia Tech (at-large)
Maryland (also considered)

Jerry Palm (CBS Sports):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Gonzaga

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Wichita State

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Tennessee

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Texas, Butler, Florida, and Syracuse
First Four out: Baylor, Utah, Washington, and Louisville

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Nicholls St./ Prairie View A&M
No. 9: Virginia Tech (West, at-large) vs. No. 8 Arkansas

Delphi Bracketology (Most accurate bracket projection of past two years – Updated 2/17):

No. 1 seeds: Virginia, Xavier, Villanova, and Purdue
No. 2 seeds: Kansas, Purdue, Duke, and Texas Tech
No. 3 seeds: Michigan State, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Clemson
No. 4 seeds: Tennessee, Arizona, West Virginia, Gonzaga

Last Four in: Texas, Baylor, Louisville, UCLA
First Four out: St. Bonaventure, LSU Temple, and Syracuse

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1 overall: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 9: Virginia Tech (at-large)

Local Rundown:

It is clear that Virginia’s loss to Virginia Tech will chalk up as just a blemish on an otherwise outstanding tournament resume. The Cavalier’s made that clear with their second half in Coral Gables on Saturday.

The top defensive team in the country does have some wiggle room as they close out the 2017-18 season with the madness from the teams behind them. A loss or two will not move them off the No. 1 line, and depending on which team, they might even maintain the top seed.

Virginia Tech, the team that beat the Cavaliers, is taking advantage of the upsets across the NCAA. Paired with their upset win, they went from a borderline bubble team to a No.9/ No. 10 seed. What does make things difficult for them is that their final four games are against three NCAA tournament teams and a bubble team in Louisville.

They honestly are going to need some other teams to fall or themselves to pull out some monster upsets to stay on the good side of the bubble.

With losses to Penn State and Nebraska, the Maryland Terrapins odds to get into the dance are all but vanquished. Only two bracketologists even mentioned the Terps in their analysis. However, they are not entirely out of it with their schedule and a small run in the Big Ten tournament. There remains a small chance, ever so slight. 

The rest of the Mid-Atlantic Region (Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) is going to have to rely on upsets in conference tournaments to get more teams in. Keep an eye on these teams as they try and ride momentum into March: Old Dominion (21-5, 12-2 C-USA), VCU (15-2, 7-7 A-10), William & Mary (16-11, 9-7 CAA), Towson (18-11, 8-8 CAA), Radford (17-12, 10-6 Big South), and Mount St. Mary’s (16-13, 10-6 NEC), Navy (19-10, 10-6 Patriot).

Virginia stays at No. 1, Middle Tennessee enters Top 25 for first time ever

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia stays at No. 1, Middle Tennessee enters Top 25 for first time ever

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Virginia strengthened its hold on No. 1 in the AP Top 25 while Duke jumped back into the top five after a pair of impressive wins.

The Cavaliers earned 42 of 65 first-place votes in the poll released Monday. That's 12 more than last week when they reached No. 1 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era.

The top four remained unchanged, with No. 2 Michigan State earning 19 first-place votes after rallying from 27 down to beat Northwestern. Third-ranked Villanova got the other four first-place votes after winning at No. 4 Xavier.

Fifth-ranked Duke jumped seven spots after beating Virginia Tech and Clemson despite playing without injured top freshman Marvin Bagley III.

Middle Tennessee checked in at 24th, marking its first AP Top 25 appearance in program history.

Complete AP Top 25 Poll for Week 16:

1. Virginia (42)
2. Michigan State (19)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
6. Texas Tech
7. Gonzaga
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Auburn
13. Wichita State
14. Arizona
15. Clemson
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Nevada
21. West Virginia
22. Saint Mary's (CA)
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee
25. Florida State

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.