VIRGINIA TECH (11-7, 0-4 ACC) AT NO. 17 VIRGINIA (15-2, 2-1 ACC)
Time/TV: 6 p.m./ESPNU
Location: John Paul Jones Arena
Virginia Tech 80 (No. 7 ACC)
Virginia 34 (No. 3 ACC)
Line: Virginia -8 (o/u 111)
Virginia Tech Players to Watch: G Erick Green, 6-4 Jr. (16.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg); G Dorenzo Hudson, 6-5 Sr. (11.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg); F Dorian Finney-Smith, 6-8 Fr. (6.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.3 apg). Hudson came off the bench in Thursday’s loss to North Carolina. It was the first this year he didn’t start, but scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He also made 4-of-6 from beyond the 3-point line.
Virginia Players to Watch: F Mike Scott, 6-8 Sr. (16.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 58.4% FG); G Joe Harris, 6-6 So. (12.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.6 apg); C Assane Sene, 7-0 Sr. (4.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 50.8% FG). Scott, who had 18 points and seven rebounds in Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech, is 29th all-time in scoring at Virginia with 1,233 points and fifth all-time in rebounding with 822.
Storylines: Virginia is a 3-point loss at Duke away from being 3-0 in the ACC. The loss, which was followed by a 70-38 smackdown at Georgia Tech, snapped the Cavs 12-game winning streak. Tech is 0-4 in the ACC. After close losses to Wake Forest, Florida State and Boston College, the Hokies dropped an 82-68 home decision to North Carolina on Thursday.
Keys: It could be a long evening for the Hokie offense, which has shot 35.8 percent in four conference games. They’ll be facing one of the nation’s best defenses in Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers, who allow opponents to shoot just 38.3 overall and 25.7 from the 3-point line, which ranks second in the nation to UW-Milwaukee. The 50.4 points allowed per game by UVa is second nationally, only behind Wisconsin’s 49. The Hokies also defend well, holding opponents to 60.9 points per contest, 40 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from 3-point range. Virginia ranks ninth in the country in rebound margin. They average 34.6 and surrender an amazing 27.5 boards per game. The Cavs also only turn the ball over 11.3 points per contest, which is best in the ACC and 16th best in America. Virginia Tech had struggled with its perimeter shooting until Thursday’s loss to the Tar Heels. The Hokies hit 13-of-31 3s, including 4-of-6 from Hudson, 4-of-7 from Jarell Eddie and 3-of-8 from Green. In the loss, Tech shot just six free throws (making five) to 21 by UNC, which made 18 of them. However, the Hokies had just seven turnovers and forced the Tar Heels into 14. Green had three steals and now has 98 for his career. The Cavs are 9-0 at John Paul Jones Arena this season. The Hokies are 2-3 in true road games, including recent losses to Wake Forest and Boston College – two of the ACC’s worst teams.
The Bottom Line: If Virginia Tech is able to get some easy baskets in transition, it should be able to hang in with its in-state rival. If Virginia is hitting shots and forces the Hokies to play half-court offense, this game could be over by halftime.
The Pick: Virginia 59, Virginia Tech 43