Virginia Tech hasn't won its conference tournament since the 1979 Metro, and the Hokies most recently made a final in '84, also in the Metro.
Blocking Virginia's path to Sunday's ACC title game are Miami on Thursday, white-hot North Carolina on Friday and Clemson or Boston College on Saturday.
On the bracket's opposite side, Virginia Tech would have to conquer Georgia Tech, Florida State and, most likely, Duke to make Sunday.
Since neither the Cavaliers nor Hokies have won three consecutive ACC games this season, feel free to accept Aunt Bertha's invitation to Sunday tea.
But championship pipe dreams aside, Tech and Virginia have plenty at stake in the ACC's 58th annual basketball bash.
The Cavs (16-14) hope to sustain the good karma they created with recent victories over North Carolina State and Maryland. They finished 7-9 in conference play, two games north of coach Tony Bennett's debut last season, and would have been markedly better had their best player, power forward Mike Scott, not missed 15 ACC games with a foot injury.
Considering some of the wrenching defeats — roadies at Boston College, Wake Forest and Miami foremost — it's not delusional to envision Virginia at 9-7 or 10-6 and Bennett in the Coach of the Year conversation.
Quality performances in Greensboro would further offseason optimism, and the formula for such is clear: make 3-pointers. In their last four wins, the Cavaliers are a combined 37-of-80 from beyond the arc, 46.3 percent accuracy that equates to 69.4 percent inside the line.
Fueling the binge: starting Sammy Zeglinski at point guard, which sacrifices Jontel Evans' defense but adds a fourth shooter to complement Joe Harris, Will Sherrill and Mustapha Farrakhan.
The Cavaliers know recent form isn't necessarily an accurate predictor. Virginia entered last season's tournament on a nine-game losing skid before defeating Boston College and challenging eventual national champion Duke in the second.
Virginia Tech (19-10) needs a similar reversal. The Hokies are 0-2 since upsetting then-No. 1 Duke, and in those losses to Boston College and Clemson led for a grand total of two minutes.
Already short-handed due to injuries and illness, Tech has been further hampered by the on-again, off-again availability of reserve Jarrell Eddie, pinched last month for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Coach Seth Greenberg shelved him at Virginia, played him the next three games and benched him at Clemson.
Greenberg's only explanation: "It's great to be king. You decide who plays and who doesn't play."
True enough. Here's some more truth: Lose to Georgia Tech on Thursday and the Hokies could well be doomed to missing a fourth consecutive NCAA tournament.
"Win tomorrow night or it's over," forward Terrell Bell said after practice Wednesday at Greensboro Coliseum.
Only the tournament selection committee knows if Virginia Tech's fate is that stark. But there's no denying four years of "bubble" chatter has worn on the Hokies.
"It's becoming a headache," senior forward Jeff Allen said. "It's been the same thing every year. We try not to listen to it."
Good luck with that. And good luck juggling a bench with seven or eight scholarship players.
Greenberg said he's worried about his players' legs. All five starters are playing 30-plus minutes these days, and the tipping point may have been against Duke, when they played 193 of 200 minutes.
Three days later, Virginia Tech fell behind Boston College 30-12. Four days after that, the Hokies lagged behind Clemson 24-9.
Might the fatigue be mental, as well?
"I'm not worried about our minds," Greenberg said. "We just need to play better."
Sitting on a trainer's table after practice, Greenberg considered his seniors: Bell, Allen and first-team All-ACC guard Malcolm Delaney. None has played in the NCAA tournament.
"They know what's at stake," Greenberg said. "We've got three guys who have invested four years."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime, and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP.