Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Tech | By Amelia Peters

NCAA Tournament 2018, Alabama vs Virginia Tech

NCAA Tournament 2018, Alabama vs Virginia Tech

They'll have to knock off a Crimson Tide team coming off the program's first NCAA Tournament win since 2006.

With the 86-83 win, the Crimson Tide will now play 1-seed Villanova on Saturday. Collin Sexton led Alabama in scoring with 21 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Petty scored 20 points, including making 6 of 8 3-point shots. That included 10 points from junior center Donta Hall, who returned to action after missing one game with a concussion, and nine points from sophomore Dazon Ingram.

The Crimson Tide (20-15) will meet Villanova, the No. 1 seed in the East Region, in the second round Saturday. Both guards shoot better than 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Hokies' Justin Robinson (5) walks off after fouling out against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Hokies' NCAA Tournament opener.

Devin Wilson's basketball career at Virginia Tech has been circuitous to say the least.

Experience matters in March, and the Hokies have the benefit of last year's NCAA Tournament to prepare them for this year's game. Tech couldn't close out the victory, but that experience on the road perhaps helped them later in the season, as they went 5-4 in ACC road games.

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Buzz Williams knows that for the Hokies to make it past Alabama, they must limit point guard Collin Sexton.

Southern finally ran out of answers in the fourth quarter of their first-round Women's NIT game, and Alabama ran away for a 69-56 victory at Coleman Coliseum. Should the Tide win, it will be Alabama's first trip since 2004 when they upset No.1 seed, Stanford. Alabama has been considered a sneaky team that could make a surprise run in the tournament since recently taking down Auburn, and if they do in fact eliminate Villanova, chances are Sexton will be a main reason why. Alabama shot an impressive 60 percent from the field, including 44.4 percent from behind the three-point line.

Alabama ranks 10th in blocks per game (5.5) while Virginia Tech ranks 221st (2.3). Only two days after the loss to the Seminoles, though, Virginia Tech came right back and beat North Carolina by 11. Previous year as a No. 1 seed, the Wildcats were upset by No. 8 Wisconsin 65-62.

During their last five games, the Hokies have scored an average of 66.0 points per game (13.7 below their season average) and allowed an average of 67.2 points per game (4.5 below their season average). Getting to the free throw line was one of Kentucky's biggest strengths. UA got significant help from its bench, with its reserves outscoring the Hokies bench 36-24, while also outrebounding VT, 26-22 for the game. But he has the talent to be a game-breaking presence against any team in the country, and the Wildcats are a significant test.

Plenty of Alabama players have had an impact on the team's success this season, but none has been as good as Sexton.

The one seed Virginia Cavaliers will face the University of Maryland Baltimore County on Friday at 9:20 p.m.

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