By Marty Gordon
Virginia Tech and Radford University seemed destined to drive across the New River to play each other in men’s basketball.
With questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and teams looking to cut down on lengthy road games, the two schools will hit the hardwood this coming season on Nov. 25 in Blacksburg in the season opener for the Hokies.
The two schools have met 10 times with eight victories going the Hokies’ way. The last time they met was in 2017 with Radford falling 95-68.
Current Virginia Tech coach Mike Young is a Radford High graduate and a former Radford University assistant coach. Word from Blacksburg is that the Hokies will also play the Virginia Military Institute this year.
Eight teams, including Virginia Tech, will play in the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament this season. The Hokies will play on Nov. 28-29 in the Naismith bracket along with Rhode Island, Temple and USF at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The matchups, game times, ticket information and television broadcast details will be released at a later date. The other side of the bracket, the Springfield bracket, will be played on Dec. 3-4, and the teams are Albany, Drexel, Long Island and Quinnipiac.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Gazelle Group are collaborating to produce multiple college basketball games at Mohegan Sun from Nov. 25 through Dec. 4 and have named the space “Bubbleville.”
Bubbleville will house several events relocated and reimagined due to COVID-19 and provides a controlled environment with teams and event staff adhering to tribal, government and NCAA health and safety protocols and testing requirements.
For the second time in three years, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will play Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The game will take place in Blacksburg on Dec. 8. Tip time and network will be determined at a later date. This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools in the challenge, which is in its 22nd year.
The Nittany Lions have won the two previous challenge meetings, both played in University Park while Tech holds a 6-3 advantage in the all-time series, including a 2-0 mark in Cassell Coliseum.
The Hokies have fared pretty well in the challenge in recent memory, winning its last home game by defeating Iowa 79-55 in 2017 and then beating Michigan, 73-70, in Ann Arbor in 2016. Tech is 5-8 all-time in the challenge and is 3-3 in home contests.
In head coach Mike Young’s first season (2019-20), the Hokies did not compete in the challenge, as one team in the ACC does not play because the league has one more team (15) than does the Big Ten (14).
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will televise the entire 2020 event, matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioner’s Cup. All games will also be available via the ESPN app. The Hokies’ entire non-conference and ACC schedule is expected to be released in the next two weeks.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Sunday announced its plans for the annual ACC Operation Basketball and ACC Women’s Basketball Tipoff events.
The virtual events will be televised live by ACC Network on Wednesday, Nov. 11, and Thursday, Nov. 12.
ACC Women’s Basketball Tipoff will be held from 5-7 p.m. each night while Operation Basketball will air from 7-9 p.m. both evenings.
The head coaches from each of the 15 ACC men’s and women’s basketball programs will be featured on one of the two nights as part of panel interviews hosted by ACCN’s Kelsey Riggs. One student-athlete from each program will also participate as part of roundtable discussions with Riggs as well as men’s analysts Carlos Boozer and Luke Hancock and women’s analysts Kelly Gramlich and Monica McNutt.