HOKIES HOOPS CENTRAL: At Virginia Tech (13-8) at Miami (14-7) 12PM ESPN

HOKIES HOOPS CENTRAL: At Virginia Tech (13-8) at Miami (14-7) 12PM ESPN

Virginia Tech (13-8)
At Miami (14-7)
February 3rd, 2024
Watsco Center
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Virginia Tech Sports Network

ESPN
Play-by-Play: Dave O'Brien
Analyst: Cory Alexander

Local Radio
Virginia Tech Sports Network
Play-by-Play: Zach Mackey
Analyst: Mike Burnop

Current Spread: Miami -3.5
Over/Under: -152.5

Can they weather the storm?
The Hokies go on the road looking for a rare Quad 1 win at Miami. The Hokies are coming off a disappointing home loss to Duke in which they shot 27% from three and less than 45% from the floor overall.

Last time out against the Hurricanes, missing Hunter Cattoor, they struggled to keep Miami off the glass in a 75-71 loss at home.

The Miami Hurricanes squad comes in 14-5 after losing on the road at NC State 74-68. They are 2-3 since beating the Hokies in Cassell in mid-January. They beat Pitt at home and Notre Dame on the road. Their other losses were to Syracuse and Florida State. This will be the 49th meeting between the Hokies and Miami. The Hokies are 20-28 overall against the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes best win was over a ranked Clemson. The Hurricanes were ranked as high as 8th this season before a loss to Kentucky. Their other two losses are to Colorado by 27 and Wake by four.

The Hurricanes are coached by Jim Larranaga, who is in his eleventh season as head coach at Miami. Larranaga is 268โ€“156 overall guiding the Hurricanes. Prior to Miami, Larranaga had a 14-year run at George Mason where he took the Patriots to the Final Four in 2006. He has led the 'Canes to five NCAA Tournament appearances including a Final Four run last season and an ACC title in 2013.

Miami got one transfer in second leading scorer Matthew Cleveland from FSU. They had three freshman enroll but only freshman commit Kyshawn George has played meaningful minutes. Michael Nwoko has played sparingly in almost every game and Paul Djobet has gotten on the floor for clean-up minutes.

The starting five are Norchad Omier, Matthew Cleveland, Wooga Poplar, Nijel Pack, and Bensley Joseph. All five starters are on the court at least 28 minutes per game. The only other player to start a game this season for Miami is Kyshawn George when Pack and Poplar each missed two games. He averages about twenty minutes per game. Miami only goes two more deep on the bench in Christian Watson and AJ Casey.

Defensively, Coach Larranaga primarily employs man-to-man, with the scramble 3-2 zone as a secondary defense. A combination of the two is a series of zones that he calls the Camouflage, which is used strategically as a surprise defense that forces the offense to react to the defense. Once the opponent gets used to a man-to-man and the scramble, the Camouflage defense puts them on their heels immediately. The Camouflage is used most in a full court setting. Each pass, trap, deflection and player responsibility is analyzed. When they play man-to-man defense, the focus is retaining inside position to facilitate defensive rebounding and limiting second chance opportunities.

Offensively, Coach Larranaga typically has his teams playing a form of Zone offense with a specific focus on the use of ball screens to give shooters separation. He emphasizes ball movement, man movement, screening, dribble penetration, and offensive rebounding. The team on the floor for the majority of the game will be relatively small compared to other ACC teams, with the tallest player on the floor at 6'7. That said they are much faster than most teams.

Hurricanes Backcourt
Matthew Cleveland (Questionable due to Hip injury)
0 JR G 6-7 200
14.8 Pts, 5.8 Reb, 1.9 Ast

Nijel Pack
24 JR G 6-0 180
14.7 Pts, 2.8 Reb, 3.7 Ast

Wooga Poplar
5 JR G 6-5 195
14.6 Pts, 5.1 Reb, 2.3 Ast

Bensley Joseph
4 JR G 6-1 195
8.3 Pts, 3.4 Reb, 3.5 Ast

Kyshawn George
7 FR G 6-8 205
7.5 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 2.0 Ast

Christian Watson
3 SO G 6-7 211
3.2 Pts, 1.7 Reb, 0.9 Ast

Hurricanes Frontcourt
Norchad Omier
15 JR F 6-7 230
18.1 Pts, 9.8 Reb, 1.2 Ast

What to expect from Miami?

The biggest question in this one is will Matthew Cleveland play? He has missed their last two games and remains questionable due to a hip injury. Would seem fitting if he missed the rematch after Cattoor missed the first game against Miami.

Last time out the Hokies could not stop Cleveland or Pack from getting to the rim. The duo combined for 40 points on 14-23 shooting, while going 4-8 outside. They were 10-15 inside the perimeter with most of those baskets coming in the form of layups. Omier added to the domination in the paint with a 7-11 performance adding another 14.

The final differential in the game though came at the line. The Hurricanes went 12-16 at the line while the Hokies were 5-6 in what was a four point loss.

The Hurricanes will run primarily a four guard and one smaller forward. They want to create turnovers and get into transition, but they just don't seem to be able to do it consistently. They struggle at closing out on the perimeter. In their losses, teams are shooting 40% from the perimeter and 52% overall. Four starters average in double figures.

Omier, while lacking size has the athletic ability to score inside against the true bigs in the ACC. He increased his scoring by over two points per game while averaging nearly a double-double at 18.1 ppg and 9.8 rpg. He gets excellent positioning and is physical enough to maintain. He has an excellent first step dribble inside which allows him to get to the rim.

Poplar and Pack are averaging 11 perimeter shots per game and each shooting above 39%. Freshman Kyshawn George has struggled of late but is still going to be someone the Hokies have to stay in front of on the perimeter. He attempts over four threes per contest off the bench.

The Hokies
In the last game against the Hurricanes they were missing Hunter Cattoor and it showed defensively. The biggest challenge from the Hurricanes will be keeping up with their speed and preventing easy penetration which is something Cattoor excels at.

Kidd had an 8-8 performance last time against Miami and the Hokies need a similar performance to keep the Hurricanes honest. The Hokies really could use another big game from Poteat here as well. The more focus Miami has to put on the paint scoring, the more likely the perimeter defense sags.

The turnovers were a concern as Pedulla without Cattoor was forcing thigs and turned it over six times. The team had 15 turnovers leading to 15 points. In a game likely to come down to a one or two basket final, every possession is critical.

The real question is what kind of contributions will the Hokies get outside of Cattoor, Pedulla and Kidd? Collins has been much better offensively, Beran has seen an uptick in contributing. A well rounded performance is what the Hokies need to win this game.

In Closing
The biggest difference between these two teams is that Miami has the ability to create space thanks to the dribble penetration of Cleveland (assuming he plays) and Pack. The difference in athleticism leaves me wanting to see the Hokies play a two-three collapsing zone but Mike Young wont entertain that so we have to hope that having Cattoor to counter Cleveland will make the difference.

Neither team has the depth to sustain against foul trouble but the Hokies are more equipped in that regard, especially if Kidd and Poteat can get Omier in trouble. Behind Omier is little used Michael Nwoko and could turn this game.

Remembrance of a historical figure in Hokies basketball history, Charles Lipscomb, the first Hokies African American scholarship athlete. He passed away in early January.

Not sure why but I am surprisingly optimistic the Hokies can get this critical Quad 1 road win.

Confidence Factor:

Congratulations to Hunter Cattoor for surpassing 300 made three pointers

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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This is my school
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If you're reading this mail me West End London Broil pls

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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This is my school
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Yes,that's the Hokie Bird riding a camel. Why'd you ask?

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My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

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The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

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This is my school
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Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

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Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

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Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

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This is my school
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Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

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Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Please join The Key Players Club to read or post comments.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..