Preview | ACC Tournament Quarterfinal | #5 miami vs. #4 VT | Fri., ~2:30 PM

TechHoops.com will be doing in game commentary for VT’s quarterfinal game against miami.

THE SETUP

With miami’s 63-50 win over the nc state wolfpack, the Hokies get the chance they wanted: a seventh shot at beating a RPI Top 50 team. miami, 28th is last Sunday’s RPI, comes into this game as the second hottest team in the ACC having won seven of their last nine. They also didn’t have to work very hard in beating an awful nc state team, so they shouldn’t be too exhausted on Friday.

The state/miami game set the game of basketball back about 20 years as the two teams started out 1/18 on threes, including 0/11 from state, and finished just 3/23. That’s good in a sense in that miami struggled from outside. Tech struggles to guard the perimeter, so cold shooting will help VT. nc state only scored 2 points in the first 7:40. But this is the kind of game miami wants. They play classic Big East basketball: lots of bruising punishment inflicted.

THE SERIES:

  • All Time Series: miami 8-5
  • Since VT joined the ACC: VT 4-2
  • Last Meeting: miami 74, VT 71 – 2/9/08
  • Overall ACC Tournament Records: VT 1-3, miami 3-3
  • ACC Quarterfinal Records: VT 1-1, miami 0-2

THE NUMBERS:

Category

VT

VT

miami

miami

2007-08 Record (ACC/Overall)

9-7

18-12

8-8

22-9

Points/Game (ACC/Overall)

72.0

69.5

74.8

76.0

Scoring Defense (ACC/Overall)

72.2

65.2

75.8

68.6

Leading Scorers

Vassallo

16.6

McClinton

17.4

 

Washington

12.7

Dews

10.3

Leading Rebounder

Allen

7.8

King

7.4

Assists Leader

Thorns

3.4

McClinton

2.6

Blocks Leader

Diakite

1.4

King

1.5

Steals Leader

Allen

2.1

Dews

0.8

THE GAME

The biggest question on Friday will be how do the Baby Hokies react to the bright lights of the ACC Tournament stage?  miami will be loose, having a game in the books, while there is a danger that Tech will come out with some nerves, in awe of the stage.  You’ll know early depending on how things go up to the first media timeout.

In the meeting in February at the Cassell, Deron Washington’s three to tie the game at the buzzer was off the mark and VT lost 74-71. After an initial VT 10-2 lead, the canes controlled the game. miami never trailed in the second half and built their lead up to 10, then withstood a furious Hokie rally. A.D. Vassallo had 24 points and Jeff Allen added 16. But the story was rebounding and free throws, as the canes almost doubled VT in both categories. When VT wins on free throw attempts, turnover margin, and rebounding margin, they are unbeaten.

The canes are led by First Team All-ACC member Jack McClinton. Jack is the first person in ACC history to lead the conference in three-point percentage and free throw percentage two years in a row. He hits 90% from the line and 44% from threes. However, he did not score in the first 30 minutes against nc state and finished with 8 points.

After McClinton’s 17.4 points per game, only James Dews averages double digits and he is only at 10.3. But this team is extremely balanced, inside and out. They have eight players averaging five or more PPG, and Eddie Rios, who averages just 3.7, had 14 in the game in Blacksburg.

Inside the canes are tall and thick. Dwayne Collins, Anthony King, and Jimmy Graham are built like hockey goons. They average 22 points and 16 rebounds per game. In the first meeting, the Hokies were absolutely dominated on the glass by a 35-20 margin. Tech barely had more defensive rebounds (16) than the canes had offensive boards (13). The Hokies must do a better job on the glass or they will likely lose again. VT could not get stops unless the canes turned it over. Jeff Allen was in the midst of his post-suspension intensity slump in this game. He seems to be over that. Jeff was the only VT player with more than three rebounds in the game. Lewis Witcher will have to continue his improved play and get 50/50 rebounds. Deron will have to use positioning to get more rebounds since he gives up weight.

Traditionally in tournament play, referees call the action tight, especially in the ACC.  This should play to VT’s advantage since miami is so physical.  The Hokies need the refs to call over-the-back or other fouls with the body.  Although on Day 1, the refs seemed to not be calling the action tight, but that might have been based on the lack of intensity on defense shown by several of the lower ACC teams.

Because of miami’s mass inside, the Hokies must get out and run. If VT can secure defensive rebounds, they can outlet the ball and beat the canes on the break. The Hokies tried to run a good bit in the first game, but didn’t have much success. Lately, Tech has done a better job of passing on the break and finding open men then they were a month ago.

On the perimeter, Tech did not do a good job of guarding miami’s guards. McClinton had 19 and Rios 14 on 6/12 from three-point range. In the second half, the canes hit five threes on nine attempts. As has been an issue all season, the Hokies must do a better job of guarding outside shooters. McClinton has deep range, not Oglesby-deep, but close. The problem is he can beat you off the dribble, too, unlike Oglesby. VT will have to take away his outside shot and help if he beats his man with penetration.

The Hokies need to play like their season is on the line. In some ways, it is. VT is not even on the NCAA Tournament bubble right now. With a win, they are back on the bubble and at least have a shot at a bid regardless of what happens in the semi-finals. A loss and it is off to the NIT.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1216 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

Contact the author | Visit the author's website | Follow Niemo on Twitter

  • vatechhokies50

    Can I have a lineup card? :-)

  • Niemo

    Just use the one from the last game.  Go to The Season -> Game Previews and scroll down to the miami game preview.  The lineup card from that game is linked there.

  • vatechhokies50

    Thank you, sir… good idea…

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