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 Who would have thought Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg (right) would have his team in a first-place tie?
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Date published: 2/28/2007


No one would've been surprised if they were told at the start of the year that two teams from the same state would play a high stakes Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball game this late in the season.

However, there may have been a few chuckles if the state was projected to be Virginia, and not North Carolina.

Virginia and Virginia Tech are the teams laughing now.

The Cavaliers, who were picked to finish eighth in the ACC in a preseason media poll, and the No. 21 Hokies, who were picked sixth, are in a three-way tie for first place with North Carolina.

They'll square off tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena.

"I think it's great for basketball in the commonwealth," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said. "I think it's exciting for Virginia. I think it's exciting for Virginia Tech. It's exciting for anyone who follows basketball in the commonwealth."

The Cavaliers are 15-1 at home this season, including 7-0 in ACC games. Greenberg said that despite Virginia's success at home, he's looking forward to his first visit to John Paul Jones Arena.

"I hear it's magnificent," he said. "It looks like there's great energy in the building. It seems like every tape I watch that [the Cavaliers] are playing there, they make every shot, so they obviously like it."

Virginia and Virginia Tech are expected to hear their names called when the NCAA selects its field of 65 tournament teams on March 11.

The Hokies and the Cavaliers haven't played in the tournament in the same year since 1986.

"It's a tribute to both schools," Cavaliers coach Dave Leitao said of the turnarounds. "And [tomorrow] should be a fun night."

Short memory required

Whatever happens to Virginia in its matchup with the Hokies must be forgotten quickly. The Cavaliers have a 1 p.m. visit to Wake Forest on Saturday.

It will be the second time this season that the Cavaliers have played ACC games two days apart.

They beat Miami 81-70 on Feb. 3 just two days after upsetting Duke 68-66 in overtime.

Leitao called the week "challenging."

"I don't think it's the most ideal situation," he added.

A caring rival

After North Carolina State first-year head coach Sidney Lowe was hospitalized because of dehydration during last Wednesday's road loss to North Carolina, he received a visit from Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.

Williams, who visited directly after the game was over and again on Thursday morning, provided advice on the best ways to deal with the stress of coaching.

Lowe, who was released from the hospital on Thursday, said he'll take heed.

"It was a very nice thing that he did," Lowe said. "He left the game and came directly over there and really gave me some encouraging words and wisdom."

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526
Email: tcoghill@freelancestar.com