ESPN’s College Game Day will visit Blacksburg Saturday as Virginia Tech prepares for its clash against No. 1 Duke at 9 p.m.
Saturday night’s game is make-or-break for Virginia Tech’s season. A win over the No. 1 team in the nation would speak volumes for the Hokies’ late season push to make the NCAA tournament.
Practically every media outlet thinks Virginia Tech can pull the upset, the stars are aligning and Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen have to make the big dance once before their collegiate careers end.
But for in order for Virginia Tech (18-8, 8-5 ACC) to slay Duke (26-2, 12-1 ACC), the Hokies must shoot lights-out and play excellent perimeter defense.
This season, when Virginia Tech has been at its best, the starting five has clicked on all cylinders. Delaney and Allen have carried the load with help from Erick Green, Victor Davila and Terrell Bell. The Hokies can be even more dangerous when they get production from the bench.
Manny Atkins, Jarell Eddie and Tyrone Garland have been best utilized by being an extra body so the starters can get some rest. From time to time, the three have put together solid games—most notably Eddie’s 17 points last game against Wake Forrest.
Delaney and Allen need to continue their strong play just to keep the Hokies close.
In Delaney’s case, he will be going head-to-head with a contender for national player of the year in Nolan Smith.
Smith is averaging 21.4 points per game and is shooting 47.5-percent from the field. The Hokies cannot focus all of their attention on just Smith because Duke sports a lineup packed with offensive explosion.
Five of Duke’s top six players are shooting above 35-percent from 3-point range with guards Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins shooting above 40-percent.
Seth Curry will make a much anticipated return to Cassell Coliseum. Curry’s father, Dell, is an all time great Virginia Tech basketball player who has his number retired. His older brother Stephen Curry was overlooked by Seth Greenburg in the recruiting process because of his small frame, 6-foor3 and 185 pounds, and played college basketball at Davidson.
Seth played his freshman year at American University and transferred to Duke after being recruited by Virginia Tech.
Saturday night Seth will be the first Curry to play at Cassell since his father Dell in 1985.
Both coaches are downplaying Curry’s return to Blacksburg and are trying to focus at the bigger picture.
Virginia Tech is in desperate need for a win to boost their NCAA resume. With only two wins over RPI top-50 teams, No. 45 Florida State and No. 46 Penn State, the Hokies are still looking for a marquee win on the season.
Saturday night’s game holds more weight for the Hokies because they are fighting for an NCAA tournament berth and Duke is holding onto its No. 1 seed status.
By the way things are going for the top teams this season, the odds are in favor of Virginia Tech pulling off the upset.