No. 11 Virginia Tech faces uncertainty over Kitley's injury entering the ACC Tournament

Everything looked set last week for No. 11 Virginia Tech to carry its late-season surge right into the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. Instead, the reigning champions are reeling and concerned about the status of their star player.

The Hokies (23-6) arrive in Greensboro, North Carolina, this week holding the program's first league regular-season title in program history. But their 10-game winning streak vanished with back-to-back losses. And it's unclear whether graduate center Elizabeth Kitley — named league player of the year for a third straight season on Tuesday — will be able to play because of a left leg injury suffered last weekend at Virginia.

“We don't know anything yet,” Hokies coach Kenny Brooks said Monday. “Obviously we're just waiting and praying for good results.”

Virginia Tech is the top seed and begins play in Friday's quarterfinals, part of a field that includes No. 10 North Carolina State, No. 14 Notre Dame, No. 20 Syracuse and No. 24 Louisville.

The 6-foot-6 Kitley was an Associated Press All-America third-team pick in 2022 and second-teamer last year, and the soft-shooting big is the program's all-time scoring and rebounding leader. She helped Virginia Tech follow last year's first ACC Tournament title by going to the program's first Final Four.

Kitley was hurt Sunday night with 6:05 left when her knee appeared to buckle when she landed on a transition layup. Kitley eventually walked off the court to the locker room and later returned to the bench but didn't play again.

It marks the second straight year that the top seed enters the tournament with a major injury question mark. Last year it was Notre Dame losing star point guard Olivia Miles in the regular-season finale.

The Fighting Irish didn't offer specifics on Miles' status until saying she would have season-ending surgery. But that announcement came days after Notre Dame had secured a No. 3 regional seed in the NCAA Tournament, while Miles went on to miss this year because of the same injury.

“Everyone knows we won the ACC regular-season championship, we won the ACC Tournament last year, (had a) Final Four appearance,” Brooks said. “So we're going to get everyone's best shot regardless of who's on the floor.”


The tournament opens Wednesday with No. 12-seeded Clemson meeting 13th-seeded Boston College in the first of three first-round games. The Cardinals are the No. 5 seed, followed by Florida State, Duke, North Carolina and Miami opening play in the second round.

Syracuse is the No. 3 seed behind Virginia Tech and N.C. State, while Notre Dame is seeded fourth.

The championship is Sunday.


N.C. State (25-5) spent nearly all year in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 poll and won the tournament three straight times before Virginia Tech's title last year.

“It's a lot of new people, a lot of new pieces, so to speak,” Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said. “At least we know the formula, and know how we want to approach it and can go over there with some confidence.”


Notre Dame freshman Hannah Hildalgo has been a star all season, averaging an ACC-best 23.8 points to rank third nationally. The 5-6 guard was named ACC rookie and defensive player of the year on Tuesday.

She averages a national-best 4.86 steals per game and stands as the only player nationally averaging at least 20 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals.


The ACC is set for another strong haul of bids to the NCAA Tournament, starting with that group of five ranked teams. FSU, Duke and UNC also look on solid ground.

Ninth-seeded Miami, which faces UNC in Thursday's second round, is also included in ESPN's most recent bracket projection as a No. 10 regional seed. That would give the ACC a league-record nine NCAA bids.

The Hurricanes are coming off an unexpected run to the ACC title game in 2022 as a No. 7 seed, followed by an even more unexpected run to last year's NCAA Elite Eight.

“You can't go back and rewrite yesterday or a week ago or a month ago,” Miami coach Katie Meier said of March basketball. “But you sure as heck can define yourself from now on, and that's where we're at.”


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