Gators are taking on Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament. Here are 5 things to know about the Hokies.

Special to Gatorsports.com

Here is a look at No. 7 seed Florida's first-round opponent in the South Region of the NCAA tournament, which starts with the 12:15 p.m. (CBS) game Friday in Indianapolis against the No. 10 seed Virginia Tech Hokies (15-6).

The Hokies aren't strangers to the Big Dance

The Hokies are playing in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive time and 12th time overall. Virginia Tech is 8-11 all-time in the tournament. They come into the tournament as an at-large team thanks to a 15-8 overall record, including a 9-4 mark in ACC play.

Virginia Tech beat then-No. 3 Villanova during a Thanksgiving tournament on the way to compiling a 4-1 record against ranked opponents.

A 65-51 victory over Virginia, which had won its first seven ACC games, on Jan. 30 fortified the Hokies’ NCAA résumé before both of their games against Florida State were canceled.

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North Carolina guard Kerwin Walton (24) drives to the basket as Virginia Tech guard Hunter Cattoor (0) defends as Virginia Tech forward Justyn Mutts (25) and North Carolina forward Armando Bacot (5) block out during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Virginia Tech missed a lot of recent games because of COVID

Because of virus-related issues, Virginia Tech had five games canceled over the final month of the regular season and ended up playing just twice in a 38-day span (Feb. 6-March 6 ) leading up to its 81-73 loss to North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals last March 11.

Like the Gators (14-9), the Hokies had issues over the last few games, going 3-2.

More:How to watch Florida Gators men's basketball vs. Virginia Tech in NCAA Tournament first round on TV, live stream

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Justyn Mutts starred for Virgina Tech in ACC Tournament, but Keve Aluma is top scorer

Virginia Tech forward Keve Aluma (22) leads the Hokies in scoring (15.6 points per game) and rebounding (8.0 per game).

Justyn Mutts had 24 points and eight rebounds, and Tyrece Radford had 20 points and six rebounds against the Tar Heels. But the Hokies will need a better performance from forward Keve Aluma, who leads them in scoring (15.6 points per game) and rebounding (8.0 per game).

Radford has 11.9 PPG with 6.1 RPG and Nahiem Alleyne has 10.3 PPG to make up the trio of double-digit scorers for Virginia Tech this season. Mutts has 9.6 PPG with 6.5 RPG and Jalen Cone has 9.2 PPG while Wabissa Bede has a team-high 3.2 APG this season to lead the Hokies in assists. As a team, Virginia Tech is averaging 72.1 PPG on 45.1% shooting from the field and 35.3% from three while allowing 64.8 PPG on 41.7% shooting from the field and 32.7% from three this season.

The Hokies probably will be without Cone, who is still nursing a sore ankle.

When was the last time the Gators played the Hokies?

The Hokies are 5-4 all-time against the Gators and won their last meeting, 79-57, in 1991 in Orlando at something called the Red Lobster Basketball Classic.

Friday's winner will face the winner of the matchup between No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 15 Oral Roberts on Sunday.

From the coach:

"These guys have always been about the team and they have improved over the long haul of the season," Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. "They have weathered every storm thrown at them and I expect them to continue to do the same as we get to Indianapolis."

What's a Hokie?

Virginia Tech Hokies: HokieBird

According to the school's website, the answer leads to 1896 when Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College changed its name to Virginia Polytechnic Institute. With the change came the necessity for writing a new cheer and a contest for such a purpose was held by the student body.

Senior O.M. Stull won first prize for his "Hokie" yell (Old Hokie Cheer below) which is still used today. Later, when asked if "Hokie" had any special meaning, Stull explained the word was solely the product of his imagination and was used only as an attention-getter for his yell. It soon became a nickname for all Tech teams and for those people loyal to Tech athletics.

The official university school colors — Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange — also were introduced in 1896. The colors were chosen by a committee. The official definition of "hokie" is "a loyal Virginia Tech Fan".

The mascot is a "HokieBird" which has evolved from a turkey.