Buzzketball Season 4 Week 16: The Home Stretch

Virginia Tech solidified their tournament resume with two wins.

[Mark Umansky]

Dust off the dancing shoes. Virginia Tech's on the brink of a second straight March Madness appearance. The last time the Hokies danced in consecutive seasons was 1986-87. Tech blew out Georgia Tech on the road, and then beat No. 15 Clemson in Cassell.

Buzzketball now plays two home games in three days.

Virginia Tech 76–Georgia Tech 56

This was fun, and a 20-point final margin doesn't do the Hokies' effort justice.

Yes, Georgia Tech was injured. Yes, the Yellow Jackets aren't a good team. I don't care. A road win in the ACC by 20 points is impressive. Especially when Tech had a lead as large as 35.

There's not much else to say about this one. The Hokies were the dominant team for 30 of the 40 minutes. The other 10 minutes was full of Tadric Jackson going ham from the three-point arc.

The most beneficial aspect of the result wasn't that it looks good on the tournament resume, or that it was fun to watch Buzzketball whoop on somebody. Those are all great, don't get me wrong. But none of the Hokie starters played more than 24 minutes. In late February, that type of rest can not be understated. That's the best part of a blowout.

In particular, Tyrie Jackson capitalized on meaningful minutes. The Tifton, GA led all freshman bench players with 18 minutes in front of his family. He even squared off with his older brother and won the dunk battle.

Wabissa Bede played 16 minutes He served up three assists and scored three points. There were flashes of his potential for the Hokies faithful to look forward to in the future. He seemed at ease slinging the ball all over the court. P.J. Horne also played 15 minutes, but managed to pick up five fouls and get disqualified. But hey, he also contributed five rebounds.

This was a must-win for the Hokies against a bad Georgia Tech squad. Buzzketball was keenly aware of that fact and dominated a lesser team. Let's move on.

Virginia Tech 65–No. 15 Clemson 58

I'm still sweating from this game. It was packed and hot in Cassell on Wednesday night. The Hokies kept heating up as well.

Remember how I mentioned that Virginia Tech would benefit from resting their starters and getting their freshman experience? It showed.

Buzzketball received impressive production from Justin Robinson (14 points) and Kerry Blackshear Jr. (seven rebounds). That's expected though. Tech also found quality minutes on the bench. Horne scored nine points and snagged three rebounds. Bede passed his way to three assists. Jackson hit a big-time contested three-pointer. Devin Wilson led the team in three-point percentage.

Oh? Devin Wilson isn't a bench player you say? Good job, you're not skimming.

Wilson's started for a few games now, and it's proven to be a wise decision by Buzz Williams. Wilson has always been a great defensive player, but he's starting to show flashes on the offensive end. He's not a player to turn to for a consistent 15 points. But if the shot clock is winding down, just pass to Wilson and let him jack it from deep. It'll go in. Just... trust me.

I referenced Clemson's rank according to various advanced metrics prior to the contest. Pomeroy had the Tigers at No. 16, and Clemson's RPI was 9. After the Hokies win, Clemson dropped one spot to No. 17. Buzzketball, shot up to No. 28. In the RPI, the Tigers again slid down once to No. 10. Tech leaped up seven spots to No. 45.

February 24: Virginia Tech vs. Team 6 Louisville

Fun fact: Louisville is the only team that the Hokies have never beaten in ACC play.

Louisville limps into Cassell looking to bounce back from two embarrassing losses. The Hokies will try to pick up ACC win No. 10, and make it 8 W's out of the last 10. The threetwo-time national champs are squarely on the bubble this year, so expect the Cards to be fighting tooth and nail.

Back in January, Louisville prevailed, 94-86. The Cardinals shot 53% overall from the field, 13 for 23 from deep, and made 19 free throws. Tech's defense was... less than ideal.

Williams has mentioned time and time and time again that defense is all the Hokies have worked on in practice since the Miami loss (Feb. 3). And it's worked. In the past five games, the Hokies have held their opponent to at least nine points under the season scoring average.

Tech forced Virginia to shoot more three-pointers (38) than they've shot in the two games since the Hokies' upset win (31). The Hokies held Georgia Tech to just 3 points through the first 8:37 of the second half. And in the win over Clemson, Buzzketball won a defensive battle against a top-15 team. Read that again. Appreciate what Williams has done to turn this season around. The Hokies. Won a basketball game. With defense.

The Cardinals suffered two straight losses to Tobacco Road. A home 17-point loss to North Carolina followed by a 82-56 shellacking against Duke in Cameron Indoor on Wednesday night. Louisville has little downtime before traveling to Blacksburg. David Padgett's squad will be pressed for a victory, but they'll also be worn out and vulnerable.

The Hokies will have a chance to dictate terms. If Tech wants to let Louisville hang around and make it a close game, it'll happen. But if the Hokies want to run the Cardinals out of the building, Tech will have the opportunity to do so.

Win this game, and all of a sudden, Monday night's contest is massive. The Hokies will almost certainly be ranked for a senior night in Cassell against a surging Duke team.

February 26: Virginia Tech vs. No. 5 Duke

This should be fine. Duke is doing that thing they always do. Figuring out every single one of their glaring issues right as the season ends. Oh, and Marvin Bagley III hasn't played in four games.

When these two teams met last week, it was close for about 18 minutes. But then it turned into a showcase of how good Duke can be. There's not much that Tech could've done differently.

I'll admit that I don't have high expectations for this game. And that's okay. If Tech can win, great. It just helps move the Hokies up a seed line (or down, depends on what mood Joey Brackets is in). If Tech drops the contest, there's no harm. Duke is peaking and the Hokies won't get punished for losing to one of the best teams in the country.

It'll be interesting to see if Bagley III plays. If he does, attention will turn to whether or not Duke continues to play at the aforementioned high level. There's a very good question floating around asking whether Duke is better on defense without Bagley III. There's no question that the Blue Devils are more skilled on the offensive side of the ball when he's on the court (he's an offensive rebounding machine), but on the defensive half it's more of a debate.

If Bagley III doesn't play, expect Grayson Allen to be in the spotlight. In the four games without the star freshman, Allen has scored 95 points. In the previous 10 games before the "mild" knee sprain to Bagley III? 98 total points.

Duke's zone defense has wreaked havoc on opponents. Mike Krzyzewski mentioned after the Tech game that the Blue Devils will be almost exclusively a zone team for the foreseeable future. And it's clear why. With so many talented freshman complimented by a senior leader in Allen, Duke is capable of extending the zone past the three-point line to force bad shots by opponents.

The extension of the zone presents a weakness though. The free throw line jumper. Tech usually attacks that area with Chris Clarke. Once the ball is in Clarke's hands, he usually faces the basket, but rarely shoots. That needs to change on Monday night. The shot will be open, but whether or not the Hokies will convert lingers.

I'm confident that Virginia Tech is the tournament. Others... not so much. Splitting the upcoming two games will lock it in for just about everybody. And there's a small matter of still being in contention for a double-bye as well. These upcoming days are big for Buzzketball. Strap in.


Team 6

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Leonard. Duh.

Wouldn't it be great if someone hacked the scoreboard and changed Louisville to Team 6?

Remember how I mentioned that Virginia Tech would benefit from resting their starters and getting their freshman experience? It showed.

I don't think it can be understated how invaluable it was to have the luxury to do this over the last two games, late in the season before the tournaments. Knock on wood, we're healthy and playing the best ball of the season right now. I've been so happy to see the defensive effort and execution steadily drastically pick up too. Let's close out strong boys!

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

Especially considering how thin we were at this time last year when it felt like we only had 6-7 guys we could use in the rotation

This time last year we were about one injury away from sending in Coach Roccaforte to play center.

I found TKP after two rails from TOTS then walking back to my apartment and re-watching the 2012 Sugar Bowl. I woke up the next day with this username.

The three two-time national champs

It hurts when you shoot coffee out of your nose

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

But if the shot clock is winding down, just pass to Wilson and let him jack it from deep. It'll go in. Just... trust me.

This is absolutely true and has been since before this season. A couple of years ago Wilson hit a turnaround 3 from the coach's box at the shot clock buzzer. If anyone could remind me of which game this was I'd be grateful.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

NIT against Princeton

Thank you

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Seth Allen couldn't believe it.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

If you watch really closely you can see Wilson's lips moving as he's falling out of bounds....I'm pretty sure he says......backboard

"Don't go to, go through"

I imagine this is how it went running back up the court:
Seth: "Nice shot, but did you call bank?"

I got a feeling that either Bibbs or NAW will man the foul line in Duke's Zone.
Clarke will probably run the baseline.

Also, if DW can add 6-8 points a game, Hokies could be just a little bit dangerous going into the ACC tourney and March Madness.

Tweedy can run like a dadgum antelope or whatever. I like to use scalded dog. Do antelopes lumber? Cheetah, OK. He runs like a cheetah. He's fast. - Bud Foster

I just want Hill to get out of this ACC funk that has plagued his career. Somehow find a way to finish the season as Outlaw did last year.

Exactly. We need Bibbs there. He is a solid passer and rebounder and he can make that shot. We need to do something to force their zone back inside the three point line. Having a shooter there is our best option.

Plus it would be a great send off on senior night for Bibbs to have 20 pts, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in a home win against Duke

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

But Bibbs is so good from the corner 3 that you almost need him and NAW out there to keep the defense from collapsing on the high post. I could see the combo of Bibbs, Robinson, and NAW almost running a basketweave at the top and Clarke working the baseline as that has seemed to really work against the zone lately. Until CC gets consistent from 15 ft, he won't stretch a zone defense.

I am not sure what to do with my hands now

CC has become surprisingly good from 3 also. He is steadily improving over his years here, Freshman he shot 12.5%, Sophomore before he got injured 23%, and this year is shooting 40%.

He certainly improve while rehabbing his ACL. His shooting % is slightly skewed because he only shoots when he's open.

Isn't that the point though? Being able to hit open 3s forces the defense to space out and guard you.

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

I completely agree and was thinking the same thing watching the Duke game. They were daring KJ to shoot from the elbow all night, and just sinking back and clogging the lane. Having someone who could knock down a midrange jumper in the middle would change that zone completely.

Winning with defense. I think Bud should deliver a lunchpail to Buzz.

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

Buzz doesn't need a lunch pail. He needs a Yeti cooler because he brings enough for everyone.

If our wins over UNC, UVA, and Clemson were replaced with losses, and our losses to Louisville, Syracuse, and Miami, were replaced with wins, what would happen to our resume? Better, worse, the same?

All 3 of those wins are Q1 wins

If the losses were reversed, we would only gain back 2, as Miami would have fallen out of the top 30.

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

worse. out of tournament

Always choose joy.

I'll be there tomorrow to kill my vocal chords against Team 6. I hope the student section takes up that chant at some point.

"It's a miracle in Blacksburg, TYROD DID IT MIKEY, TYROD DID IT!"

I like NAW playing the air guitar.

US Navy Vet

Its either an air guitar or a three-pointer launcher

I am not sure what to do with my hands now

Strike up the band... it's time to start dancing!

My dream end-of-season scenario.....we win the last three games, get the double bye, LOLUVA looses in the first round of the ACC tourney, we win and play for the ACC title (don't care if we win or lose at that stage). Then LOLUVA becomes the first #1 seed to ever lose to a #16 seed. Any NCAA wins for us are icing on the cake to me at that point. Although a run to the sweet 16 would be nice. Or more.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

I wonder if UVA would still be a 1 seed if they lose to the #8 team in the ACC tournament? I'd rather they lost to us. Again.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

I'm thinking they get a pass on the ACC results, but I'm ok with your scenario.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

It cant be overstated how much the Duke Defense has improved with Bagley being out. In the four games prior to his absence, they were giving up 73.5 PPG and with him out that number has been 58.5 PPG. They actually have been grabbing more rebounds overall at 40.25 compared to 37 but its been 29 defensive versus 24.25 prior that stands out, essentially taking away five more chances to their opponents per game. They also increased their steals to 8.25 compared to 4.5 and Blocks were up to 5.5 compared to 5. They even cut down the personal fouls from 17.25 down to 12.5 per game.

Part of the personal foul issue can be attributed to winning big versus losing three of four and needing to foul to get back in games. The steals I attribute to better perimeter defense by having more four guard sets out there rather than two bigs down low in Carter and Bagley.

They also have reduced Opponents 3P% from 32.9% down to 27.6% in those four game stretches which is another indicator of getting pressure on the shooters outside. Scarier yet is that they have managed to reduce interior shooting from 40% down to 36% while also reducing the shot attempts total by 29 over a four game total, from 269 to 240. That equates to 7.25 fewer shots inside and 2.5 fewer shot attempts outside per game with attempts down from 97 to 87. Allowing opponents 10 fewer shots per game makes a huge difference.

At this point does Bagley reclaim his starting position or is he a bench player until the defense breaks down?

I cant see Coach K keeping him on the bench if he is healthy but it will be interesting to see the results. I actually hope he is back against us so they aren't as prolific on getting a hand up on outside shooters.