It's extremely difficult in college basketball to win on the road when the opponent is honoring their senior players, just ask N.C. State.
The Hokies defeated the Wolfpack 71-59 Wednesday as Tech honored lone scholarship senior Lewis Witcher and walk-on Paul Debnam.
The ACC’s leading scorer Malcolm Delaney (20.5 PPG) scored 21 points, as did fellow backcourt-mate Dorenzo Hudson, to lead the Hokies in a sloppy game highlighted by 20 turnovers by N.C. State.
Now Tech will try to avoid a similar fate when they travel to Georgia Tech Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams.
This is the only scheduled meeting between the two teams this season and the two clubs met just once last year as well with the Hokies winning 76-71 in Blacksburg.
The Yellow Jackets (19-10, 7-8 ACC) have been excellent at home this season posting a record of 14-1.
The Hokies have had great success in Atlanta however, winning in three of their four trips and leading the all-time series 9-3.
It’s an important game for both teams as they scramble for ACC Tournament seeding and possible NCAA Tournament births.
It’s tough to say which team has more on the line.
The Hokies are in much better shape after the win over the Wolfpack. As other bubble teams around the country have faltered, Virginia Tech sits poised to earn a first round bye in the ACC Tournament.
Many pundits around the country have quelled the fears of Hokie fans worrying over an at-large bid by pointing out, if not Tech then who?
Certainly, another win would lock in a bid, but a “true” road loss on senior day wouldn’t hurt their case too much.
Georgia Tech’s prospects aren’t nearly as clear.
As much as the Hokies’ non-conference schedule has been criticized, Georgia Tech’s isn’t much better.
The Yellow Jackets top non-conference wins are against George Mason (17-13) and Southern California (16-13), and their play in the ACC has been sporadic at best.
Then there’s the much-maligned head coach Paul Hewitt.
Hewitt has composed an overall record of 172-140 during his time in Atlanta, culminating with a loss to UConn in the 2004 national championship game in his fourth season at the helm.
Since then however, it’s been a mixed bag for the Yellow Jackets.
Despite two NCAA Tournament appearances, Georgia Tech has posted three losing seasons and an ACC record of .500 or worse in every season including this one.
Fans on Georgia Tech message boards are furious, with some even openly rooting for the Hokies to win Saturday in hopes that it will be the final nail in Hewitt's proverbial coffin.
You can bet he’s feeling the collective pressure of being both on the “bubble” and the hot seat.