Doing it With Defense

In a surprise twist, Virginia Tech basketball has been buoyed by their defense. But to get off the dreaded tourney bubble, they'll need their offensive pieces to play to their capability.

Eleven games into the season, Virginia Tech men's basketball is, in the words of Dennis Green, exactly who we thought they were.

They're a bubble team. The bubbliest of bubble teams. The Hokies are 8-3 and rank 57th in KenPom — right on the fringe of the "First Four Out", per Joe Lunardi.

Tech has two blowout losses to formidable foes in FAU and Auburn and a close loss to South Carolina (for whom the jury is still out). On the flip side, their neutral-site win over Iowa State is looking better and better, and the victory over Boise State serves as a nice Quadrant II boost.

Tech has put up a few stinkers here and there, but they've beaten just about everyone they were supposed to. In the selection committee school of thought, that will take you a long way.

What's most surprising, though, is how they've been winning. It is in fact the Hokies' defense — not their offense — that has carried them through the early season. And that was on no better display than their 73-51 thrashing of Vermont last Saturday.

Lock n' Roll

There's a saying in baseball that a manager can wait for hitting, and he can wait for pitching, but he cannot wait for defense.

Defense has been Virginia Tech's bell cow. They rank 51st in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency, which is right around where Mike Young's teams have typically ranked at Tech. Since the loss to Auburn, they've risen 44 spots. It's helped them weather an abnormally poor shooting start to the year.

Numerous spots in the rotation contributed to Tech's win over the Catamounts. What they did best was take a Vermont team full of cutters and turn them into drivers. That starts largely with how you defend ball screens, a point that Young alluded to in his postgame presser.

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