NCAA

March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 4 Virginia Tech

March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 4 Virginia Tech

It was a stellar season for the Virginia Tech Hokies in the ACC this season. 

Returning six rotation players, including three starters from last year's tournament team, many expected Virginia Tech to go places this season.

A 12-1 nonconference showing allowed the Hokies to emerge early in the national landscape and in a crowded ACC field. They garnered wins over ranked Purdue and Washington.

As a team they were not afraid to jack it up this season. The Hokies were the ninth best 3-point shooting team in the country this season, and are the third best 3-point shooting team in the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies will be a threat in any game in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, but if shots are off it can it ugly. 

En route to the third straight appearance n the big dance for Buzz Williams and co., the team wrapped up their season with a monster home victory over national championship contender Duke. 

However, the team was without their point guard Justin Robinson for a the later half of the year. Robinson missed 12 games due to a foot injury. Fellow guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker then had the tall task of facing an opponent's best defender and it rippled down the roster. Alexander-Walker is a talented shooter, but is a much better force when he is playing behind another scorer.

Relying on more of their post play than their three-point game, the Hokies slowly transitioned to a slightly more traditional offense. Still that will not stop their big man, Kerry Blackshear Jr. from stepping back when necessary (59 3-point attempts on the year).

Robinson, however, will be back for the NCAA Tournament, which should provide a boost to their offense. It will then allow Ty Outlaw, a 46 percent 3-point shooter, to come off of the bench.

Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams, Virginia Tech has never made it past the Second Round. Under Williams, the program has never won a tournament game. 

That can change when the Hokies play Saint Louis Friday at 9:57 p.m. on TruTV.

Record: 

24-8 (12-6 ACC)

Seed:

No. 4, East (At-large bid)

First Round Opponent:

No. 13 Saint Louis

The Path to the Final Four:

No. 13 Saint Louis, No. 5 Mississippi State, No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Michigan State

Top Players:

Justin Robinson (13.7 ppg, 5.1 apg)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (16.6 ppg, 3.9 apg - ACC Third Team)
Kerry Blackshear Jr. (14.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg - ACC Second Team)

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Watch a George Mason walk-on receive a full scholarship

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Watch a George Mason walk-on receive a full scholarship

There are not many videos better in this world than walk-on college athletes receiving a full-ride scholarship and their ensuing reaction. 

George Mason's men's basketball team gave everyone one of those emotional moments. Jack Tempchin, who's in his third year as a preferred walk-on for the Patriots, received the scholarship after Thursday's practice. 

His teammates reacted appropriately. 

On Twitter, the redshirt junior thanked his teammates, coaches and family who helped get him to this point. 

As a walk-on, Tempchin has only played in 16 games throughout his three years. Most of his minutes have been in garbage time of blowouts or to come in the game to pick-up a quick foul. Throughout those appearances, he's put up six points, four of them coming from the charity stripe. 

Gotta love when a player gets properly rewarded for their hard work and dedication. 

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Virginia comes back from historic upset against UMBC to win the NCAA tournament

Virginia comes back from historic upset against UMBC to win the NCAA tournament

Shock and disbelief were carved onto the faces of the Virginia Cavaliers as they walked off the court from their lone NCAA Tournament game in March 2018.

The top-seeded Cavaliers had just lost, as is the case for 67 of the 68 teams that enter the big dance. But their loss was different. Their loss was unprecedented. 

They had just entered the record books for all the wrong reasons. The 2018 Cavaliers became the first-ever No. 1 seed to be upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to a No. 16 seed. 

The greatest upset in college basketball history belongs to the UMBC Retrievers for their manhandling of Virginia that day. However, that unlikely victory – as incredible and monumental the feat was – is not what is highlighted today. 

That UMBC victory sparked what would become a great comeback year for Virginia. A year later, the Cavaliers would squash their demons and take home the national championship.

Both years were exceptionally dominant for Virginia. The former being the No. 1 overall seed of the tournament. Combined their records were 60-5 excluding their NCAA Tournament games. To produce such an incredible mark, they rode on the back of their intimidating defense to get there. In 2018 they were fifth in adjusted defense according to KenPom. That rose to first the year that they won it. 

With such a good defense, it left some holes on their offense. Sure, they held opponents to only 53 points but they did not muster much better on the other end of the court. Their offense was a problem and it cost them by scoring only 54 to UMBC. 

Nothing changed for Virginia the following season. Their identity – a slower pace, defense-first mindset that many regarded as the sole reason for their loss to UMBC – did not waiver. Head coach Tony Bennett just had them improve in every aspect of their game. 

Most importantly, though, they got all their key figures to return. DeAndre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome were all there to avenge the loss.

It made the celebration for the Cavaliers so much more triumphant. It was easy to feel the relief that Hunter exhaled as he chucked the basketball to the rafters as the final seconds in the national championship game ticked away. A story tale ending was complete. One that was filled with chills and narratives that the best storytellers in Hollywood could not script.