Sports, like anything else is marked with a string of rivalry especially in major tournaments and high-profiled competitions. The emerging world of sports continually leave traces of such rivalries – many of which are healthy rivalries. In rare occasions, there are cases of below-the-par exhibition of rivalry and this is pertinent in all sport across the globe.
The latest of such occurrences is in the world of basketball in the United States. According to Gene Wang, a sports reporter at The Washington Post, “there might be an extra layer of hype to the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry for fans at the start of the college basketball season, with both men’s teams ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll for the first time in 23 years. But players and coaches on both sides said Wednesday at ACC basketball media day that they approach their matchups with elevated passion regardless,
“They could not be ranked. We could not be ranked. We’re still going in there like, ‘We’ve got to have this game,’” Virginia Tech graduate guard-forward Ty Outlaw said. “People in Blacksburg tell us, ‘Even if you don’t win any games this season, beat them,’” Wang explains.
Virginia were ranked the fifth best coming to the last season, but they ascended to No. 1 in the country last season for the first time since 1982, they also “became the first team to go 9-0 on the road in the gruelling ACC and earned the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament,” Wang narrated.
Talking about the Virginia Tech, Wang reported that “No. 15 Virginia Tech, meantime, reached the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1980s. A third straight NCAA tournament berth would mark a first in program history,
“I think I have a right to say this: Preseason rankings, postseason rankings, seeding means nothing, really,” Cavaliers Coach Tony Bennett said at Wednesday’s event at Spectrum Center, where the Cavaliers then became the first No. 1 NCAA tournament seed to lose to a No. 16 in a stunning 74-54 upset by Maryland-Baltimore County. “Funny story. We’re flying here and we’re talking about that, if any team or any coaches know what the number is before the name,
“Specifically about Virginia Tech, I know they’re good because of the players they have back and [Coach] Buzz [Williams] and they’re staff. They’re really good, and so I think that’s always a great rivalry, but the league will be deep, and I think most coaches say the rankings, especially early, whatever,” Wang noted.
According to Gene Wang, “Last season, Virginia’s only conference loss over the 18-game schedule came against the Hokies, 61-60, in overtime at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers, then ranked No. 2, had won 15 in a row before that game.
“Kyle Guy, Virginia’s leading scorer last season with an impressive 14.1 points per game, said of the rivalry: “Students buy into it so much that it just really brings a different competitive nature. And now that they’re ranked, I think they absolutely deserve it because they’re bringing a lot back,” Wang says.