Virginia Tech Preview-Capsule
Last season: 21-12, lost in first round of NCAA Tournament
Coach: Buzz Williams, fifth season
Conference: Atlantic Coast.
Who’s gone: G Justin Bibbs (13.3 ppg. Led the team with 66 3s), G Devin Wilson, their best defensive player
Who’s back: G Justin Robinson (14 ppg, 185 assists) is a speedy 6-foot-2 guard who can take over a game (he had 32 points in a victory against NC State last year). F Kerry Blackshear Jr. (12.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg), who can be hard to stop when not in foul trouble. G Nickeil Alexander-Walker (10.7 ppg, 58 3s), who showed maturity beyond his years as a freshman. G Ahmed Hill (10.6 ppg, 64 3s), who shot 41 percent from deep. G/F Chris Clarke (8.2 ppg, team-best 6.3 rpg) whose speed can be an asset, but also a liability (75 turnovers). F P.J. Horne, who shot 59 percent from the field and showed flashes of being a spark off the bench.
Who’s new: G Ty Outlaw, who shot 48.7 percent from 3-point range in 2016-17 before missing last season with a torn ACL.
The Skinny: The Hokies have thrived in an us-against-the-world approach in Williams’ first four seasons, winning two ACC games their first season and 10 each of the past three years. With prospects for a third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in school history, how they handle being on the expectations side of the ledger will go a long way toward determining how successful they can be.
Expectations: At No. 15, the Hokies are ranked as high as they ever been to start a season, and they are picked fifth in the ACC after much more dire prognostications in previous seasons. With eight experienced players returning, Williams also has more experience than he’s had during his tenure in Blacksburg. A quick return to form of Ty Outlaw after missing last season with a torn ACL would help their prospects immensely.
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