Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks and top-seeded Virginia Tech will face a different challenge in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
After limiting Chattanooga to 33 points in an opening rout, they’ll face a player that nearly matched that in South Dakota State’s Myah Selland. She scored 29 as the ninth-seeded Jackrabbits beat Southern California 62-57 in overtime.
In advance, the coach of the first-time Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament champions is not tipping his hand. These are not your typical Jackrabbits, having challenged themselves all season.
Among their opponents: Mississippi State, Rutgers, Louisville, Kansas State, UCLA, South Carolina. They won four of those.
“They know that they’re not just going to be able to, you know, walk through anything regardless of what the number is beside you. And the teams that are left are always going to be good,” Brooks said.
Good as in having won 22 in a row.
But Selland, who averages 16.1 points, said it won’t all be about her.
“Any one of us can make shots when we have them.” she said. “So really relying on each other will be important because, yeah, they’re a good defensive team and we have to be able to match that.”
The Hokies, first-time winners of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament and top seeds for the first time, will be in front of a friendly packed crowd, but that won’t be foreign to the Jackrabbits.
“I know how good they are. I watched that game against South Carolina,” Brooks said. “They’re not afraid of the moment. They’re not afraid of whoever they’re playing. I watched them play against Louisville in the Bahamas. I watched them play against UCLA in the Bahamas. They’re good. And they know they’re good. Anybody who is playing at this point in the season is a good team and they know they’re good.”
Selland welcomes a loud crowd at sold out Cassell Coliseum, even if unfriendly. as a sign of the growth of women’s basketball.
“I think we like to embrace these challenges. We are excited for the opportunity,” she said. “We know it’s going to be obviously a tough opponent in a really fun environment, going to have a lot of fans. So we are just going to try to embrace that and just make the most of the opportunity, but we are excited about it.”
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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