The 60th ACC men’s basketball tournament tipped off Thursday in Greensboro, N.C. It took four days and 11 games to narrow the field to one, but for the first time ever, the Miami Hurricanes are ACC tournament champions.
North Carolina State — who, unsurprisingly, was welcomed by a massive home-court advantage — and Virginia Tech faced off in the tournament’s second match, which tipped off March 14.
The Hokies were able to keep up with N.C. State for much of the first half, trailing by just six at the break. However, the size and strength of the Wolfpack became too much for the Virginia Tech to handle, and N.C. State came out on top, 80-63.
Erick Green, whose shelf is quickly filling up with various personal performance plaques, has lacked on-court support from his teammates all season long. Despite the team’s last place finish in the ACC, Green has been able to mask some of the Hokies shortcomings by making games competitive on his own. In his final game in a Tech uniform, however, he had no such luck.
NC State point guard Lorenzo Brown finished the night with 12 points and seven assists, but was most impressive on the defensive side of the ball. He limited Green, who leads the nation with 25.4 points-per-game, to just 15 points on 19 shots.
The finish was disappointing for the Hokies, but not surprising; they won just four conference games under first-year head coach James Johnson.
“It hurt, because, like Coach (Johnson) said, I’m a winner, and I’ve always been a winner,” Green said. “I was looking forward to holding the trophy up and ending my college career as ACC champions. I got the hugs from my teammates and walked off with Coach. It sucked, man, because I didn’t want my college career to end like this.
Green was less than 20 minutes removed from the final buzzer of his final collegiate game, but still, he was able to find the words to describe what the past four years as a student-athlete at Virginia Tech has meant to him.
“I know it was a losing season, but I’ve learned a lot,” Green — who averaged just 2.6 points as a freshman — said. “It sucks that it has to end and I’m going to miss college basketball; I’m going to miss being in college hanging out with these guys and Coach Johnson, laughing and joking.
"I’m definitely going to miss playing in Cassell Coliseum in front of the Hokie fans; that’s something that’s always been great and I’m going to miss that a lot.”