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The Virginia Tech Hokies got one of multiple monkeys off their backs last weekend, knocking off a ranked Duke team 17-16 as 3.5-point road underdogs in Durham. The win snapped a three-game slide and was just the Hokies’ third win since the middle of September. It also served as a splash of cold water on Frank Beamer’s blazing-hot office chair. Virginia Tech has a rivalry game with Virginia in two weeks, setting up the dreaded “lookahead letdown” spot when it travels to Wake Forest as 15-point road chalk Saturday.
The local media in Blacksburg is feeding into this situational spot, bombarding Beamer with questions about the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Cavaliers and ignoring the challenge the Demon Deacons present this weekend – despite the coach’s best efforts to keep his team focused on Wake Forest. Virginia Tech is developing a bad habit of suffering a letdown after beating ranked opponents. It lost to Maryland after stunning No. 14 Miami last season and fell to East Carolina following its upset over No. 8 Ohio State back in Week 3.
The Toronto Raptors have picked up where they left off last season, parlaying a long-awaited playoff appearance into a strong 8-2 (7-3 ATS) start to the schedule. Toronto has a busy week with a string of three games in four nights starting Wednesday with a home stand against the Memphis Grizzlies and finishing with a massive matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday. In between those two games are the lowly Milwaukee Bucks Friday night.
Milwaukee is on the rise, with a big win at Miami Sunday giving Bucks backers their seventh ATS win in the last 10 games, heading into Tuesday’s date with New York. Milwaukee is cut from a similar cloth as the Raptors, depending on a stingy defense that is giving up just 92.6 points (fourth in NBA) on 41.8 percent shooting (third in NBA) per game. With Toronto eager to measure itself against the Cavs Saturday, the Raptors could get caught looking past the Bucks Friday.
Normally, college coaches are begging their players to get to bed early. However, this week, it may be in Phil Martelli’s best interest to have his guys burning the midnight oil. Martelli’s St. Joseph’s Hawks make a cross-country trip to Gonzaga Wednesday, part of the preseason NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament. That game goes at 8 p.m. local time in Spokane – 11 p.m. back in Philadelphia.
The Hawks don’t have much down time to prepare for the grueling travel sked. St. Joe’s took a 52-49 win at Drexel Monday, leaving Tuesday to travel to Washington and settle in before hitting the floor at McCarthey Athletic Center, where the Zags have covered in five straight home games. The frantic cross-country travel and late tip could have the Hawks gassed before the whistle even blows Wednesday.