Teams: Syracuse Orange (8-4, 2-3) vs. No. 16/14 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2, 5-1)
Day & Time: Saturday, January 23, noon ET
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Line: Syracuse -2
TV/Streaming: Regional Sports Networks (YES in Syracuse), WatchESPN (out of market), FoxSportsGo (in market)
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Virginia Tech Blog: Gobbler Country
Rivalry: 10-5, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Syracuse
First Meeting: In a rare circumstance, Syracuse lost its first-ever match against Virginia Tech, losing 92-81 on February 28, 1976. Larry Kelley led Syracuse with 18 points.
Last Meeting: Syracuse had a 16-point lead at one point against the Hokies on January 18, 2020. However, Virginia Tech battled back and kept the game close throughout the second half. With Syracuse leading by one with five seconds left and a timeout to burn, VT’s Landers Nolley launched a Steph Curry-range three that was well off the mark. The Orange eventually won 71-69. Buddy Boeheim had 26 points to lead Syracuse.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (45th year, 1,073-403) | Virginia Tech - Mike Young (second year, 27-18)
Coach Bio: Young started his coaching career as an assistant for his alma mater, D-III Emory and Henry College. After two seasons, Young jumped to Division I, coaching for his hometown school in Radford. He stayed for one season as an assistant before taking an assistant job at Wofford. Young stayed as an assistant from 1989 to 2002 and would eventually be promoted to head coach after then-head man Richard Johnson was promoted to Wofford’s athletic director.
Young stayed as Wofford’s head coach from 2002 to 2019. During his tenure, the Terriers had six 20-plus win seasons and made the NCAA tournament five times. During his last season at Wofford in 2018-19, Young led the program to a 30-win season, including the program’s first ever AP-poll ranking. Wofford would be ranked No. 19 heading into the NCAA tournament, where the Terriers received a 7-seed. Wofford won its first game against Seton Hall before losing to 2-seed Kentucky in the round of 32. Young rode the success of the successful 2018-19 season to the Virginia Tech job the following season.
Last Year: The Hokies picked up a notable upset win over then No. 3 Michigan State at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, but Virginia Tech wouldn’t win a ranked game after that. The Hokies would flounder in ACC play, losing 11 of their last 14 regular season conference games. Virginia Tech got the 11-seed in the ACC tournament, losing to UNC in the first round.
Last Game: Virginia Tech needed every ounce of defense available to stop an upset-minded Wake Forest team from beating them at Winston-Salem. The Hokies needed nine blocks to secure a 64-60 win on January 13.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Keve Aluma is having a great season for the Hokies so far. The forward is averaging 14.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and also has 18 blocks on the season. Virginia Tech could’ve used him last season, but he was sitting out due to transfer rules. Aluma followed Young from Wofford to Virginia Tech.
If Syracuse Wins: The Orange might find their way back to the holy land of receiving votes.
If Syracuse Loses: The Orange might find their way back to the holy land of needing an executive order to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Fun Fact: For the younger folks, you may not remember that Virginia Tech was once a part of the Big East. The relationship between the Hokies and the conference was short lived, and as a result Syracuse and Virginia Tech only played each other three times as Big East foes. The Orange won all three games by an average margin of 14.7 points.