NCAA First Round 12:15 PM: Virginia Tech faces Florida

3/14/2021

Tech will play in first round in South Region on Friday

BLACKSBURG – Making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Mike Young‘s arrival, Virginia Tech men’s basketball will be the No. 10 seed in the South Region and will take on seventh-seeded Florida in the first round on Friday at 12:15 p.m. ET on CBS at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The TV crew will be CBS’s top team, with Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Bill Raftery (analyst), Grant Hill (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (reporter) on the call.

The Hokies (15-6, 9-4 ACC) will be back in The Dance for the first time since 2019, giving them four straight NCAA Tournament berths to their name, with the 2020 tourney not being played due to Covid-19 implications.

This will be the Hokies’ 12th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They are currently 8-11 (.421) in The Dance.

“To me, it’s never been about the reaction to the seed, but rather enjoying the reaction of our kids when they see Virginia Tech pop up on the screen,” Tech coach Mike Young said. “This has been one of the most enjoyable groups I’ve had in my 30-plus years as a coach. These guys have always been about the team and they have improved over the long haul of the season. They have weathered every storm thrown at them and I expect them to continue to do the same as we get to Indianapolis.”

“This was my first time being able to participate in the [NCAA] Tournament, so I’m just happy and blessed,” forward Cordell Pemsl said. “This is an opportunity for us in March to come out and make some noise. Everyone knows at this point that anything can happen. If we play hard and leave it all on the table, we will be able to go down and get some wins.”

Tech will face a Florida (14-9, 9-7 SEC) team that made it to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, falling to Tennessee (18-8, 10-7), which is seeded No. 5 in the NCAA Tournament, 78-66 in Nashville.

Tech leads the all-time series with Florida, 5-4, and the last time the two faced off was in 1991, a 79-57 win for the Hokies in Orlando, Florida.

The winner of the Hokies and Gators will face the winner of the No. 2 Ohio State (21-8, 12-8 B1G) versus No. 15 Oral Roberts (16-10, 10-5 Summit League) matchup. 

INDIANAPOLIS – As a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Virginia Tech men’s basketball will take on seventh-seeded Florida to begin Friday’s slate of games at 12:15 p.m. ET on CBS at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

SERIES HISTORY

The Hokies (15-6, 9-4 ACC) and Gators (14-9, 9-7 SEC) will meet for the first time since 1991, a 79-57 win for Tech in the Red Lobster Classic in Orlando, Florida behind 19 points from John Rivers.

Tech leads the all-time series 5-4 versus Florida, with five of the nine matchups being on a neutral court.

YOUNG’S TRACK RECORD

Tech coach Mike Young has never faced Florida’s Mike White. Young will, however, face his former assistant on Friday, as Florida’s Darris Nichols was an assistant at Wofford under Young (2013-14).

NCAA TIDBITS

The Hokies, who made their first NCAA Tournament in 1967, are 8-11 in The Dance and have made the tourney four years in a row, with the 2020 NCAA Tournament being canceled.

Tech has never faced Florida in the NCAA Tournament or a current member of the SEC either. However, the Hokies have played in the state of Indiana before and are 0-1, with that setback coming on March 13, 1976 against Western Michigan in South Bend, a 77-66 overtime loss.

Never being a No. 10 seed, the Hokies are entering the 2021 tourney with never having played a No. 7 seed either. The No. 10 seed is their lowest seeding in school history, with the previous low of No. 9, which has happened three times, with most recently being in 2017. 

ON THE CALL

The matchup will be broadcast on CBS, with Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Bill Raftery (analyst), Grant Hill (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (reporter) on the call, while Jon Laaser (play-by-play) and Mike Burnop (analyst) will broadcast on Virginia Tech Sports Network.

LAST TIME OUT

Tech took a three-point lead into halftime, but would let it slip away for the first time this season, falling to North Carolina 81-73 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The game was tied at 49-all with 11 minutes left, but a UNC run proved too much for Tech.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Shooting 10 for 16 from the field, Justyn Mutts turned in a season-high 24 points against UNC at the ACC Tournament. The redshirt junior hit three 3-pointers and had three monstrous slam dunks, while grabbing eight rebounds.

Tyrece Radford racked up his third 20-point outing of the season and sixth of his career last Thursday vs. UNC. Going 4 for 4 from the charity stripe and pulling down six boards, Radford drew four fouls with having his way driving to the rim.

SCOUTING FLORIDA

•  Florida is coming off a 12-point loss to Tennessee (18-8, 9-7 SEC), which is a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, last Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, 78-66. The Gators never led and were down by as many as 17 points to the Volunteers, but were paced by All-SEC selection Tre Mann and his 30 points.

• White is in his sixth year in Gainesville, following a four-year stint as the head coach at Louisiana Tech. With the Gators, White has racked up over 120 wins and led them to four straight NCAA Tournament berths. He also has earned Coach of the Year honors in three conferences (WAC, C-USA, SEC).

• UF is led by Mann, who is averaging a team-high 16.0 points and team-best 3.4 assists per game, and Colin Castleton, who is second on the team in points (12.0) and is first in rebounds (5.9). • One of the better rim-protecting teams in the nation, the Gators are fourth nationally in blocks per game, owning 5.4 a contest. They also capitalize once they get to the charity stripe, shooting 75.7 percent from the free-throw line to rank 40th overall and first in the SEC.

COURTESY VIRGINIA TECH ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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