After battling a slew of injuries to start the year, Virginia Tech was forced to quickly find a new identity. The Hokies built a stronger out of conference schedule to test its team full of veterans hungry for an NCAA tournament bid that was just out of reach the past three years.
Virginia Tech (17-7, 7-4 ACC) was unable to take advantage of the stronger opponents as it battled through key injuries. The Hokies knew they had to start the ACC season off on the right foot to keep the NCAA hopes alive.
The Hokies had an opportunity to make a statement against their rival Virginia (12-13, 3-8 ACC) at home. Unfortunately the Hokies came up short, losing 57-54.
Since then, Virginia Tech has kept its NCAA hopes alive and travel to Charlottesville today looking for revenge.
Last time the two teams met, the Hokies were torched by forward Mike Scott for 21 points. Scott has only appeared in one game since then and isn’t expected to play.
The Hokies had similar misfortunes as Dorenzo Hudson played in one game after the UVA matchup and has since been shelved for the rest of the season.
With Hudson’s injury came a diamond in the rough for Seth Greenburg. Erick Green was inserted into the starting lineup and has been phenomenal.
With Green handling the ball full time, Malcolm Delaney only has to worry about getting open to score points.
Both teams are heading in opposite directions since the last matchup that claimed a key player from each side. Virginia Tech has gone 13-3 and has established itself as a top team in the ACC. Virginia has gone 7-10 and plummeted toward the bottom of the ACC standings.
UVA will start the game with four guards because of a depleted front court. Mustapha Farrakhan leads UVA with 13.1 points per game. Joe Harris is the only other player averaging double-digit points with 10.4 points per game.
Virginia Tech should have no problem cleaning the boards this afternoon as Jeff Allen is playing like a man on a mission Victor Davila seems to stand out against smaller competition. Allen has been on a tear the last six games, recording a double-double in each of those games.
Malcolm Delaney and the rest of the seniors don’t want to end their rivalry with Virginia on a losing note, so expect them to play with a chip on their shoulder.
With Duke and College Game Day coming to Blacksburg in one week, it will be hard for the Hokies to keep their focus on Virginia and Wake Forrest. Winning the next two games won’t help Virginia Tech make the NCAA tournament, but losing either of the matchups could spell disaster.
Virginia Tech’s starting five is playing extremely well together—each averaging over 10 points in the last two games—and shouldn’t show any signs of slowing down offensively. The Hokies need to limit three point chances from UVA to keep the game comfortable and come out of Charlottesville with a win against its rival.