"In every area, they outplayed us." That's what Tony Bennett had to say about the Hokies just 4 short weeks ago, when VT upset Virginia 70-68, ending UVA's eleven-game winning streak. Once again, the Hoos head into this matchup red hot; they've won their past six, and are on a 15-game winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena. Can UVA exact revenge at home?
Virginia (19-4, 8-3 ACC. #3 KenPom, #7 AP) vs. Virginia Tech (13-11, 5-6 ACC. #105 KenPom, NR AP)
KenPom: UVA 75-59 (94% Win Prob).
Vegas: Virginia -15
How to Watch
The game will be televised by the ACC Network. Click here for local affiliates in your area. The game will be available on ESPN3 in areas where the game is not televised. Or it can be streamed online in all areas here.
You can also listen online at Cavaliers Live.
Virginia Tech Statistics - Conference Play Only:
|Offense (Rank)||Defense (Rank)|
|PPP||1.04 (13)||1.10 (10)|
|eFG%||48.8% (10)||51.8% (12)|
|TO%||16.4% (6)||17.1% (10)|
|OReb%||24.4% (14)||35.8% (15)|
|FTA/FGA||46.9 (1)||39.5% (12)|
The Hokies enter the game coming off a nice 60-57 win over Clemson. Though they had lost five in a row before this weekend, the team was competitive during that stretch, as they had Notre Dame on the ropes in South Bend, were neck-and-neck with UNC at home, and forced overtime in the Carrier Dome before succumbing in each.
They've done it with a suddenly more pesky defense, and maybe a little bit of luck - in their last 7 games, only 1 opponent shot over 33% on three-pointers, including a 3-23 effort from UNC. And they've been led by the emergence of Zach LeDay, the 6' 7" forward who killed the Hoos in Charlottesville.
Still, it's Seth Allen whom the offense runs through. He uses 29% of possessions on the season, the second-highest rate in the ACC, and is responsible for Tech's wildly high FT rate, as he draws 6.4 fouls per 40. However, he's not the most efficient when the ball leaves his hand, as he's made just 45% of his 2s and 28% of his 3s this season. From the three-point line, the Hoos mainly have to watch out for Justin Bibbs, who has made 48% from downtown this season.
Over the past few years, Virginia has played with fire in Blacksburg, culminating in the Hokies' breakthrough win this year. But it's been a different story at JPJ, where the Hoos have won the last 3 by double-digits. If they play the way anywhere near the level they have since the "Wake Forest Turnaround," tonight should be no different.
Here are three keys to a UVA victory:
1. Quiet Zach LeDay
In the teams' first meeting, the South Florida transfer seemed to sneak up on Virginia. When the Hoos badly needed a stop, it seemed that LeDay was always there to take the momentum back.
He hadn't made a three-pointer in over a month before drilling 3 big ones that night. Those were memorable shots, but he dominated the interior as well to finish with 22 points. Thankfully, Virginia is playing far better on the defensive end this time around. UVA has struggled with big men who could shoot in the past, but if the team turns LeDay into a one-dimensional player who is hoisting threes, it will have done its job.
LeDay is prone to foul trouble. He fouled out of the game in Pittsburgh, and finished with four in the three games that preceded it. A comeback game from Anthony Gill would help.
2. Get the same Malcolm Brogdon that's been lighting it up the past 3 weeks
In UVA's 3 ACC losses, Brogdon launched a combined 18 three-pointers and made 3, and settled for jump shots from inside the arc as well.
During the current six-game winning streak, he is 16 for 29 (55%) on threes, 26 for 43 (60%) on 2s and has made 30 of 31 (97%) free-throws. That's scary good offense.
3. Don't do stupid stuff
With the talent disparity between Virginia and Virginia Tech, as well as the location of the game in Charlottesville, "stupid stuff" is the main recipe for an upset. It's what ultimately caused the defeat in Blacksburg, as UVA turned it over on 25.4% of possessions (second-worst on the year) against a team that doesn't force many. Most were of the unforced variety, but they led to 26 (!!) Virginia Tech points.
Another turnover-prone game would certainly qualify as stupid, as would settling for too many mid-range jumpers against an interior defense that could be beat.