BLACKSBURG — March Madness has come to Virginia Tech.
But for Hokies women's basketball coach Kenny Brooks, this weekend is about preventing the madness.
Virginia Tech is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. So Brooks does not want his team to fall victim to a March Madness upset at Cassell Coliseum this weekend.
The Hokies (27-4) will host No. 16 seed Chattanooga at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with the winner meeting No. 8 seed Southern Cal or No. 9 seed South Dakota State on Sunday at Cassell.
"The games are not played on paper and that's what makes it fun for the fans. … That's why it's called March Madness. And as a No. 1 seed, we just have to try to prevent any kind of madness," Brooks said Thursday at a news conference. "But it's going to be a hard task because we know how good all the teams are that will be here in Blacksburg.
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"We're good enough that if we take care of what we're supposed to and we handle things the way we're supposed to do it, we give ourselves a tremendous chance to win.
"But … this is why the juices are flowing — because anything can happen. They're going to watch TV and soon enough there are going to be upsets.
"They understand that they have an opportunity to build on their legacy, but they also have an understanding that if they don't come to play well, stranger things have happened."
There are high expectations for the Hokies, both externally (Barack Obama has picked Tech to go to the Final Four) and internally.
"Our expectations for ourselves are through the roof," forward Taylor Soule said. "We want to compete for a national championship.
"Although our goal was to win an ACC championship and XYZ, it's [now] to win games, to prove people wrong and to prove ourselves right that we are a great basketball team."
The top four seeds in each bracket get to host a first-round doubleheader and second-round game. Tech's goal in recent years has been to be good enough to land one of those seeds and stay home for the early rounds.
This is the first time the Hokies have hosted NCAA tournament action since 2004. Friday's game is sold out.
"Hopefully we can just carry over the momentum that we had at the end of the regular season because we had a lot of support from Hokies fans," center Elizabeth Kitley said. "Hopefully everyone will show up and it'll be a really cool environment."
"To have that type of [sellout] crowd for any women's event is absolutely incredible," point guard Georgia Amoore said. "Hosting was a goal and I'm glad that we achieved that. But in the grand scheme of things, we still have a lot more to try to achieve, … winning games in the tournament."
The game was sold out on Monday, the day tickets went on sale.
"I referenced it to being like we're the Beatles," Brooks said. "It was probably a really bad reference because my kids don't know who the Beatles are."
Brooks said getting to host means a lot to his program.
"We used to hope to win and now we expect to win. And I think that's a big difference when you get to this level," Brooks said. "That's an accomplishment, getting a No. 1 seed. I had as many chills and a blackout moment when our name came up there as a No. 1 seed as I did [two] years ago when they announced us back into the tournament for the first time in  years.
"And now it's time to go out there and represent that No. 1 seed. And we know people are going to come after us. We know people are going to doubt us."
It will only feel like a Tech home game Friday to a certain point. The Cassell public address system usually plays "Enter Sandman" right before tipoff. But Tech won't be allowed to do that Friday or Sunday.
Tech senior associate athletic director Bridget McSorley, who is serving as the tournament director for the Blacksburg action, said NCAA tournament rules require the games to be treated like a neutral event. So Tech's P.A. system can't play team-preferred music such as "Enter Sandman."
The Hokies have not reached the Sweet 16 since 1999. As the No. 5 seed last year, the Hokies lost to No. 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast in the first round at Maryland.
"Our experience last year definitely helped us probably learn, as painful as it was," Kitley said. "Losing in the first round in the 5-12 matchup just opened our eyes because we know we can't overlook any game."
Southern Conference tournament champ Chattanooga (20-12) is steered by Shawn Poppie, who was one of Brooks' assistants the past six seasons.
"It was an interesting ride in," Poppie said. "My 7-year-old, … he's pointing out to everybody, 'That's where I went to school,' and 'This is the exit we usually take.’"
Because of Poppie's Tech background, the Mocs' offense, defense and playing style are very similar to Tech's.
"It's a lot of the same actions — how you finish a play, how they're going to get the basketball to certain people," Brooks said. "The [Tech] kids are very familiar with it.
"It's a good first matchup because we understand what they're trying to do. … You're stepping out of [ACC play] again, so it's a good opponent to go and have some familiarity with."
The Mocs are equally familiar with the Hokies.
"We run a lot of the same plays, so offensively, defensively, we know what's coming," said Mocs forward Abbey Cornelius, who averages 9.6 points and 7.1 rebounds. "[Poppie] does know a lot of their strengths and weaknesses."
But Poppie isn't sure his Tech expertise will help his team.
"I've heard it all week — 'Well, you should know how to guard them.’ Well, I may know how to guard them, but it doesn't mean we can guard them," Poppie said.
The Hokies are on an 11-game winning streak.
"They're bigger than us, quicker than us," said Mocs guard Yazz Wazeerud-Din, who averages 15.9 points.