Most college hoops tournaments take place at neutral sites, but it will feel like a road game for Virginia Tech on Sunday at the Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C.
Awaiting the Hokies (5-0) is the College of Charleston, as the mid-major Cougars (4-1) get a rare opportunity to take on an Atlantic Coast Conference team on their home floor.
“It’s a big opportunity for us,” Charleston guard Jaylon Scott said. “We’ve done a lot of hard work every day since we’ve been together this summer for the chance to go out and show what we can do against programs like that.”
Though the tournament is played on its home floor, Charleston is not the host. It is an ESPN owned and operated vehicle. This is the Cougars’ fourth appearance in the Classic, with their best finish (third) coming in the inaugural event in 2008.
The Hokies took the title in their only previous appearance in 2018, beating Purdue in the final in coach Buzz Williams’ final season at Tech.
Now it’s his successor, Mike Young, who gets a chance to collect another title after winning the ACC tournament last season. He also will face Charleston, a program that courted him twice during his 17-year tenure at another South Carolina school, Wofford.
Young has built the Hokies into an efficient offensive force. They entered Saturday ranked No. 13 in points per possession (1.20).
In Friday’s 61-59 win over Penn State however, Tech had to grind out a defensive struggle as they made only 3 of 19 shots (15.8 percent) from beyond the arc.
Of the Hokies’ 26 baskets, 20 came from the paint as forwards Grant Basile (17 points) and Justyn Mutts (10 points, 12 rebounds) took advantage of the Nittany Lions’ small frontcourt.
“We have a lot of great shooters as well as a lot of big guys who can score down low, so I think being able to mix it up is what makes this team so special,” Mutts said.
Charleston advanced with a 74-64 victory over Colorado State on Friday night as Scott (12 points) was one of five Cougars in double figures.
Coach Pat Kelsey’s Cougars have been tested. All of their opponents so far, including the Hokies, made the NCAA Tournament last season. Their lone loss came at No. 1 North Carolina, 102-86, after they led by seven at the break.
–Field Level Media