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Virginia Basketball Previews: Virginia Tech Redux

On senior night, the Hoos will face rival Virginia Tech, losers of 4 in a row. The Hokies gave the Hoos a game last month in Blacksburg, so there is reason to worry about this one. But the Hokies also haven't won a road game in 15 months, so maybe there isn't much reason to worry. With Darion Atkins looking for a big game in his final JPJ appearance, the Hoos massive advantage inside should be enough to win the day.

Darion Atkins hopes to enjoy his senior night.
Darion Atkins hopes to enjoy his senior night.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information
Opponent: Virginia Tech
Date: February 28th
Time: 4:00
Location: JPJ
TV: ACC Network

For the second game in a row, the Hoos get a rematch with a team that played them close earlier in the season. In this one, though, the Hoos get the rematch on their home court. Not that going on the road was a problem against Wake Forest on Wednesday.

A little over a month ago, the Hoos almost suffered their first loss of the season in Blacksburg. Perhaps the Hoos were looking ahead to the much-hyped Duke matchup the following weekend. Perhaps the Hoos didn't take the Hokies seriously. Who knows what the problem was, but it took over 30 minutes for the Hoos to realize that they needed to pick up their game. At the under-8 TO, the Hoos were still down 7. At the under-4 TO, they were down 2. Then Justin Anderson happened. And even with that, the Hokies had a chance to tie on the final possession.

This time, there will be no Justin Anderson to bail the team out. And London Perrantes might still be out. However, in front of the home crowd, on senior night, the team shouldn't need Justin's energy to get hyped. Darion Atkins, playing his final game at JPJ, should be hyped enough for the entire team.

Not much has changed for the Hokies since that first matchup. They are solid offensively, especially when they shoot the ball well. And they are terrible defensively, especially on the interior. They can't rebound, they don't generate turnovers and they give up too many easy baskets. The one thing that will change is Justin Bibbs returning, after he missed the previous matchup. This just gives the Hokies one more shooter.

The Hokies have lost 4 in a row, including their OT loss to Duke on Wednesday night. The other 3 games were all blowouts, but the Hokies have continued to shoot the ball well from outside. Over those 4 games, the Hokies are shooting 39.5% from outside, which is slightly higher than their season percentage of 39.2%. Their problem, as it has been all season, is those 4 opponents have combined to score over 1.2 points per possession. (In the Hoos dominant performance the other night, they were at just 1.13 ppp, although that is skewed by the 8 minutes of garbage time.) In the first matchup between these two teams, the Hoos were at 0.88 ppp. Another offensive performance like that may not get it done this time out.

The Hoos have a huge advantage on the interior. Just one Hokie regular is is over 240 pounds, and that is 7-footer Satchel Pierce, who is incredibly raw and foul prone. In 20 minutes against the Hoos, Pierce had 3 points and 3 rebounds. The Hokies other big man is JUCO transfer Shane Henry, and he didn't play against Duke. Henry has scored 1 point in the 4 games since scoring 10 in the Hokies' win over Georgia Tech on Feb. 9th. Henry did nothing in 6 minutes against the Hoos last time out, and may not see much action in this one.

Freshman Jalen Hudson scored 23 points against Duke after totaling 1 point (in 10 total minutes) in the previous two contests. He played just 9 minutes against the Hoos the first time out, even with Bibb out. His minutes have fluctuated greatly during the season, but you'd expect him to get more run after the big game on Wednesday.

The Hokies aren't the best matchup for the Hoos, because of their outside shooting. Especially when you remove 2, and perhaps 3, of the Hoos best perimeter players, a team that can light it up from outside can cause problems for the Pack Line D. However, the Hoos massive advantage on the inside should more than make up for the Hokies perimeter shooting. In the first matchup, the Hokies shot just 5/19 from 3, for 26%. And that was at home. Playing on the road, you wouldn't expect that to go up. The Hoos just need to play their game, work the ball into the post over and over again, and hopefully put the game out of reach early on. The Hokies haven't won a road game since Dec 2013, and there is little reason to believe they'll be able to win this one.