UVa comes into tonight's matchup at 12-5 overall, and 2-2 in the ACC. That sounds pretty good, right? Well, they've beaten some alright teams, but lost to some bad teams as well. Their strength of schedule ranks 255th (RPI) in the nation, while Tech's 11-6 record ranks 129th. That's a pretty big difference if you ask me. Although the Pomeroy rankings have Virginia 37th and Virginia Tech 152nd.
The Cavaliers have a lot of confidence going into tonight's game after holding the Seminoles to 36 points. Not only did they play well defensively, but they shot 48.9% from the field and converted 7 of their 13 3-pointers.
UVa averages 62.1 points per game (282nd nationally) and as most of you know, love to play at a super slow pace. Imagine a sloth trying to move through molasses, they are both painful and boring to watch. What's interesting about the matchup though, is both teams play at opposite speeds. While the Cavaliers loves slowing the game down, the Hokies prefer running the floor and getting the majority of their points in transition. Scoring is not an easy task against the Cavalier defense.
"First of all, their transition defense is very good, so ... getting easy baskets on them is gonna be very difficult," Hokies coach James Johnson said Monday of the Cavaliers. "Then, they protect the paint, keep the basketball in front of them, so penetrating the defense, whether it be on the dribble or the pass, is gonna be very difficult. They keep the basketball in front of them and force you to make contested jump shots."
Point guard Jontel Evans, who likely will check Green, is Virginia's best on-the-ball defender. He's not only quick but also strong, the latter a holdover from his tailback days on Bethel High's football team.
"It starts with Evans and his ability to put some pressure on the basketball," Johnson said. "He's strong, he's quick, he's athletic. It starts with him, but all those guys, they're big guards, they're strong and physical and they keep the ball in front of you and they have a lot of hands action, what we call, 'handsy.'
This sounds like a pretty tough team defensively, and let's just say the past couple games we haven't exactly been stellar on offense. If Robert Brown and Jarell Eddie fail to show up, it could get really ugly. We won't have many open shots, so we'll have to knock down every easy look we get. The game will most likely be played at UVa's pace, simply because it's easier to slow a game down than to speed one up. If Erick, Jarell, and especially Robert play well, the Hokies will have no trouble beating the Wahoos.
Erick currently leads the nation in scoring with 24.6 ppg, but looks like he could have trouble against Evans. Will Erick be able to get by Evans or pull up over him to shoot? If Jontel is able to hold Erick to under 15 points, the Hokies will have troubling getting a win. Like previous games, expect them to trap Green and force him to find his open teammates.
Tonight is the Maroon Monsoon game and the team will be wearing all maroon at home for the first time in quite a while. The first 1,500 fans at the game will receive an ORANGE headband courtesy of the Cassell Guard. Yep. Orange. For Maroon Monsoon...Virginia Tech is the worst at color coordination. EVER. Anyway, make sure you come decked out in #ALLMAROONEVERYTHING.
Marshall Wood is a game time decision. I'm not gonna lie, we could use him, but I don't want to risk the rest of his season for one game. If he's questionable, I say let him rest and get him back for this weekend's game against Clemson.
Home teams 21-9 in ACC play. Highest ACC pct since 2003. Highest in a BCS conf since 2007 (SEC).— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) January 24, 2013
Could being at home really improve Tech's chances of winning by that much? We'll, that's to be determined. So far the Hokies are 1-1 both home and away in ACC play, but I think if Cassell is packed tonight, it will help us tremendously.
Prediction? Well honestly, I have no idea. Virginia Tech can either be really good or really terrible. It will come down to these three questions: Will E.G. have a supporting cast? Will the Hokies be able to force turnovers for easy scoring opportunities? Will the Hokies get second chances at scoring through offensive rebounds? Because I'm optimistic, I think two of the three answers will be yes and we'll pull out another close win with a score around 56-54.