Following Virginia Tech's loss to Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals Thursday, there was a hopeful feeling in the Hokies locker room.
Virginia Tech is a virtual lock to be included in the NCAA tournament when the bracket is revealed Sunday. That would be the third straight appearance for the Hokies in the NCAA tournament field, something that's never been done before.
There is also hope that point guard Justin Robinson will be back and ready to play in the first round of the NCAA tournament next week.
Robinson hasn't played since since an 82-70 win at Miami on January 30. He's missed 12 games with a sprained ankle including both games at this week's ACC tournament. Robinson did start the Hokies season finale, but played just one second on Senior Day.
The Hokies all-time assists leader brings a different dimension to the team. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is no longer forced to facilitate on the offensive end and Kerry Blackshear Jr. does not need to be the team's primary scoring threat.
"Losing a player like that, everybody had to step up and everybody's role elevated," Blackshear said Thursday. "Having him come back in, a high IQ guy, an All-ACC kind of guy, with his ability, I think that makes each and everybody guy better. We get to step back in our lanes a little bit better and we'll be a lot better."
"I just want to be full strength," said senior guard Ty Outlaw. "Hopefully we get Justin Robinson back so we can give everybody our best punch. We've grown so much as a team. Chip is really heavy right now. Just can't wait til next week."
The senior was averaging 13.7 points per game and 5.2 assists per game before the injury.