Virginia may be looking ahead to the attention that comes with playing Duke on Saturday, but its in-state rival Virginia Tech is also capable of winning the ACC.
Virginia Tech is the sixth best team in the nation, according to ESPN's Basketball Power Index (BPI), has a potential NBA lottery pick in Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and its only blemish so far is a one-point road loss to Penn State. Despite its 14-1 start, the Hokies have played the weakest strength of schedule in the ACC and have played only one top-50 BPI team -- a neutral-site game against Purdue. According to BPI, no test this season will be greater for them than traveling up I-81 to Charlottesville on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET on the ACC Network) to play against Virginia (No. 1 in BPI).
While Virginia and Duke are the most likely teams to play in the ACC title game, Virginia Tech is third-most likely at 32 percent, according to BPI. I'm not arguing that Virginia Tech is as good as those teams, but it has favorable circumstances and doesn't need too much to go its way to climb to the top of the ACC this season.
The Hokies' advantageous ACC schedule has them playing both Duke (home) and North Carolina (road) only once this season. In fact, after Tuesday's game, Virginia Tech's next hardest game is at North Carolina, which the Hokies have a 42 percent chance of winning.
BPI gives Virginia a 79 percent chance to win Tuesday. However, should Virginia Tech pull off the upset, BPI projects its chance to get a No. 1 seed in March to jump from 32 percent to 47 percent, which would be the fourth highest in the nation.
A month ago, it looked like the ACC was going to belong to Duke. Now, BPI sees Virginia as slight favorites over Duke to win the ACC. Do not be surprised if Wednesday there are three teams eyeing that advantageous "1" next to their names in March.