ACC schedule-makers smile on Virginia Tech next season

Since every ACC team plays five conference foes twice and six once each season, some schedules are inevitably going to be more challenging than others.

The team who should be overjoyed with its conference schedule next season? Without a doubt, Virginia Tech.

Already returning every significant player from a team that won 25 games last season and narrowly missed the NCAA tournament, the Hokies will have an ACC schedule that at least on paper appears tailor-made for a top-two finish.

They play preseason favorite Duke in Blacksburg but not in Durham. They face projected upper-division teams North Carolina, NC State and Florida State only once apiece. And the teams they'll see twice next season are Georgia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia and Boston College, the first three of which sustained heavy losses this spring and the last two of which may be the worst teams in the league.

That the schedule may break in Virginia Tech's favor next season is delicious irony considering it was of course scheduling that cost the Hokies an NCAA tournament berth this past March. An embarrassingly weak non-conference schedule dotted with struggling BCS-conference programs and woeful low-major squads overshadowed what was otherwise an NCAA tournament-worthy resume.

If the ACC projections hold true to form and Virginia Tech is able to feast on some of the conference bottom feeders next season, it will be all the more important that the Hokies upgrade their non-league slate. So far coach Seth Greenberg appears to have done that with a road game at projected top 10 Kansas State and a ACC-Big Ten challenge matchup against top-five Purdue in addition to two or three potentially difficult games in the 76 Classic.

Virginia Tech has a history of finding itself smack on the bubble on Selection Sunday.

But with star guard Malcolm Delaney and a solid cast of role players coming back, promising transfer Allan Chaney becoming eligible and a favorable schedule lined up, look for the Hokies to finally break that trend.