ATLANTA — Poor Virginia Tech.
The Hokies' season ostensibly started in November with Xavier banking in a halfcourt prayer to beat them in Puerto Rico. Their ACC season ended Friday in Atlanta with A.D. Vassallo's 3-pointer glancing off the rim.
If their season ends in the NIT, and not the NCAA Tournament, the Hokies can thank Tyler Hansbrough, and the officials (although not because of the last no-call).
Or they can rewind other close losses to Wisconsin, Georgia, Florida State and Boston College during this season or go back to the loss in last year's tournament to UNC (or Sean Dockery's 3-pointer from 2005 if you want to get historical).
Either way it ends the same for Virginia Tech, another game on the wrong side of a close call.
Hansbrough scored 28 points, including four in the final 36 seconds, and led the Heels to a 79-76 win without Ty Lawson in the lineup.
His sidewinding initiate-the-contact scoop of a shot with 36.3 seconds left was vintage Psycho T. His defensive help on J.T. Thompson with 5.2 seconds left was more out of character.
Down 77-76, VT had the ball and chance to win but when Malcolm Delaney left his feet and couldn't find A.D. Vassallo, who kept pace with Hansbrough with 26 points. The ball ended up in J.T. Thompson's hands. Thompson bobbled it on the first shot attempt. On the second attempt, Hansbrough tied up Thompson for a jumpball.
There were bad calls in Friday's game, mostly by Brian Dorsey, but that no-call was not one of them.
That Virginia Tech ended up with one more free-throw attempt (11) than Hansbrough (10) was not lost on Hokies coach Seth Greenberg.
"I guess we foul and they don't," Greenberg said.
UNC finished the game with 21 attempts from the free-throw line (hitting 15), while VT finished 8 of 11. It's not like VT took a ton of 3s and the totals were skewed by shot selection.
UNC and VT each took 19 3s.
And don't confuse me here, I'm not saying UNC won because of the officials. Hansbrough was great — actually it was one of his five best games — but the selective enforcement of the contact did effect Tech.
Vassallo's second foul, about 22 feet from the basket on a touch foul defending Bobby Frasor, was questionable at best. Vassallo had to sit out the final 8:19 of the first half after that foul.
That's a long chunk of the game to go without your best player, especially on a team that's a three-man show.
Cue the "Joe hates Carolina" comments.