Happy Thursday. Here are some links to get you to Friday.
Tennessee, which will take on Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, pledged its cooperation with NCAA investigators who are examining how the Volunteers recruit their players and looking into the role of their 75-member campus recruiting group, Orange Pride, in helping to attract players.
As the Hokies look forward to their date with Tennessee on Dec. 31 in Atlanta, ESPN.com's Heather Dinich glimpsed backward at Virginia Tech's regular season. I agree with Dinich on most everything she writes in here, although I'd argue that the turning point in the Hokies' season was its loss to North Carolina. Of course, that's not a happy turning point, but the tenor of their season unquestionably took a turn (for the worse) against the Tar Heels. That loss signified a marked shift in tone. Rather than talk about a national title or a conference championship, players spoke about finishing with a 10-win season. Rather than goals as tangible as trophies, the only thing left to play for was pride. Every game since that loss has seemed, sadly, ornamental.
But isn't that why college basketball is so great? With the NCAA tournament -- a novel concept, that playoff thing -- there are a bunch of teams that can stay in the national title hunt until the bitter end. And all 65 of them all enter the Big Dance with visions of cutting down the nets. But I digress.
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