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Hokies excited to play UConn in NIT

For teams that narrowly miss the NCAA tournament, getting ready to play in the second-tier National Invitation Tournament isn't always easy. And Virginia Tech is no different.

But the Hokies played with a head-down determination in beating Quinnipiac on Wednesday in the opening round and said they should have no problem getting excited to play their second-round opponent, Connecticut, on Monday night.

"I was probably more stressed out about today than anything," Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg said after his team beat the Bobcats on Wednesday. "I don't think we’ll have any problem getting ready for Connecticut."

This is not the U-Conn that many have grown accustomed to. The Huskies finished 17-14 in the regular season and sometimes seemed to disinterested in playing. While they scored wins over heavyweights like West Virginia and Villanova in a gauntlet of a schedule, they also fell to the likes of Providence and Michigan.

But when the Hokies look at U-Conn, they see a program with two national championships and an 800-game winner, Jim Calhoun, manning the sidelines.

"We wanted to play a team like that just to get our program back on the right track," guard Dorenzo Hudson said on Wednesday night. "People feel like we didn't really play a tough schedule this year, and I feel like U-Conn is a pretty good team."

The Hokies were left out of the NCAA tournament field because their nonconference schedule ranked 339th out of 347 teams in the Ratings Percentage Index. U-Conn ranks 64th in RPI and its schedule was rated the fourth-toughest nationally.

But with the ghosts of Emeka Okafor, Ray Allen and Rudy Gay still visible to Virginia Tech, U-Conn has caused some reason for excitement for the Hokies as they rally to make meaning out of a season that has already ended with some disappointment.

"Theyre really good, athletic," Greenberg said of the current Huskies. "They have size, they've got shot makers."

By Mark Viera  |  March 19, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
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