ACC Tournament Preview | #8 Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9)

THE SETUP

Virginia Tech no longer has any margin of error.  The Hokies are now in a single elimination situation in more ways than one.  Obviously if they lose in the ACC Tournament, they are done from that.  But a loss in the first two rounds of the ACC Tournament will eliminate Tech from any chance of going to the NCAA Tournament and send them to the consolation tourney, aka: the Junior Prom, the NIT for the second year in a row.  If the Hokies can defeat miami in the First Round (and for the second time this season), and then knock off the #1 (that’s in the nation, not just the ACC) unc tar heels in the Quarterfinals, they put themselves squarely back on the bubble.

But first things first — the Hokies, losers of six of their last seven games, must knock off a pesky miami hurricane team on Thursday at noon in the opening game of the ACC Tournament.   miami is also on the bubble, so call this an elimination game where both teams are playing for their NCAA lives.

The Weekend Warrior and Niemo will be at the ACC Tournament – the first person to recognize Niemo and come up to him and say, “Yahtzee” will get a beer bought for him or her (pending ID check: must be 21 years of age except in Puerto Rico; offer not valid with any other coupons; and assuming they sell booze in the Dome for this).

THE BRACKET

Thursday – First Round

  • Noon – #8 Virginia Tech vs. #9 miami
  • ~2:20 – #5 clemson vs. #12 georgia tech
  • 7 – #7 maryland vs. #10 nc state
  • ~9:20 – #6 bc vs. #11 uva

Friday – Quarterfinals

  • Noon – #1 unc vs. #8 Virginia Tech / #9 miami
  • ~2:20 – #4 fsu vs. #5 clemson/#12 georgia tech
  • 7 – #2 wake forest vs. #7 maryland/#10 nc state
  • ~9:20 – #3 duke vs. #6 bc/#11 uva

Saturday – Semi-Finals

  • 1:30 – Friday afternoon winners
  • ~3:50 – Friday evening winners

Sunday – Championship Game  – 1 PM

ACC TOURNAMENT SIX PACK

  • Virginia Tech is 2-4 in the ACC Tournament
  • The Hokies are 0-1 in the First Round, having received a bye three of the previous four seasons
  • A.D. Vassallo scored 22 points against wake in the 2007 Quarterfinals, a Tech game high in the tournament
  • This is the first tourney opponent Tech has played in a previous ACC Tournament — Tech has also played georgia tech, uva, wake, nc state, and unc
  • Tech has been held under 70 points in five of their previous six ACC Tournament games — the lone time they surpassed 70 was in the win against wake in 2007 (71).  Two VT opponents have passed 70 — nc state with 72 in 2007 and georgia tech with 73 in 2005.
  • Malcolm Delaney scored 30 combined points on a blistering 10/15 from the floor and 6/9 from three-point range in last year’s two ACC games.

FIRST ROUND – #9 miami (18-11, 7-9)

How about this for a good omen in this game: Virginia Tech has won their first game in the last eight tournaments they’ve entered.  This dates back to the 2006 Old Spice Classic in Florida, where VT lost to western michigan.  Since then, the Hokies have won their opening games in both ACC Tournaments, both Holiday Festivals, the NCAA Tournament, the NIT, the Great Alaska Shootout, and the Puerto Rico Tip-off (I did not count things like the BB&T Classic or ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge that are just one game and not true tournaments).

Also, the Hokies should have some confidence knowing they defeated the canes 88-83 in overtime in miami.  The Big 3 went nuts in this one, scoring 74 of Tech’s 88 points.  In fact, only one player other than the Big 3 had more than two points — Lewis Witcher had six.  Malcolm Delaney had 29, A.D. Vassallo 28, and Jeff Allen 17.   Jack McClinton was “limited” to 20 points (he was just 6/21 from the field), and Dwayne Collins dominated the Hokies inside for 23 points.  Brian Asbury, who had been in a shooting slump, got hot and scored 21 points, by far his season high, and mostly against Vassallo.  Tech shot 43% (9/21) on threes, and despite trailing most of the game, took a late lead only to see the game sent to overtime on a Brian Asbury three with 25 seconds left.  The Hokies fell behind by four early in overtime, but scored 11 of the final 13 points to pull away.  After that game, Tech was sitting at 4-1 in the ACC and riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels.  But that was a LONG time ago in a basketball season.

miami comes into this game having won three of four.  But those four games included the bottom three teams in the ACC, and bc, who finished in sixth.  The canes lost to 2-14 georgia tech in their second to last game.  So while the wins may have given them a lift after a 4-8 start in ACC play, they haven’t proven much of anything.  The canes lost six of their final seven games away from Coral Gables, with the lone road win against lowly uva. [editor's note: italics added because its fun.]

Meanwhile, VT was strong away from the Cassell this season.  Tech finished 3-5 away from Blacksburg in ACC action, with wins over wake (wake’s only home loss of the season), clemson, and miami.  The Hokies know they can play in unfamiliar settings. 

KEYS TO THE GAME

  • Get a Lead!  Virginia Tech has not led at any point in their last three games, a span of 120 minutes since the end of the clemson game.  The main culprit has been slow starts on offense.  In Tech’s last seven games, they have trailed at the first media timeout in every game by an average of five points.  The Hokies have played up-hill every game, and it has taken a toll on them.
  • Malcolm Delaney: Malcolm is the leader of this team, the heart and soul.  And as he goes, so go the Hokies.  When he was putting up ACC Player of the Week numbers (an award he won once) in mid-January, the Hokies were red hot.  But he has been in a slump the last nine games, due in part to the fact his body is extremely beat up from throwing it around, giving each game his all.  By no coincidence, Tech has struggled.  Malcolm must regain the hot-shooting touch he had in the first half of the ACC season, where he was in the Top 10 in the ACC in shooting percentage.   The biggest issue lately has been his inability to hit runners in the lane or on the break.  If Malcolm can get a 10-footer in the paint to drop, and an early three, VT could be in for a good day.  Delaney was hot against miami in the first meeting, hitting 9/19 from the floor and 3/7 on threes.
  • Impeach McClinton:  Jack McClinton has insane range from deep.  He must be guarded anywhere and everywhere on the floor.   He finished third in the ACC in scoring and was tops in three-point shooting, hitting an incredible 90/194 threes (46%).  But he has been in a slump the last three games, hitting just 9/37 shots from the field (24%).  The main issue has been, like Delaney, he cannot hit a two-point shot — he is just 3/19 from inside the arc.  And Tech has done a great job on him in the last two meetings.  He was just 6/21 from the field in January (4/12 on threes) and 4/17 from the field (3/11 on threes) in VT’s 63-49 defeat of miami in the Quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament last season. 
  • Boo Collins / Yay Allen: As I mentioned earlier, Dwayne Collins dominated Tech inside in January.  He scored 13 straight points for the canes during the second half to keep them in the game.  Jeff Allen managed to play 40 minutes in that game, a rare occasion where he didn’t battle foul troubles.  If Tech is going to limit Collins, they have to keep Allen on the floor and get a big effort from Diakite and/or Davila inside in post defense.  Davila has been playing better in the low post of late on the defensive end, while Diakite can challenge his shots.  And Tech must limit second chance opportunities for the big cane lineup (the goon line).

THE LINEUPS

Position

VT

Height

miami

Height

Point Guard

23 – Delaney

6′3″

1 – Hurdle

6′2″

Wing/SG

40 – Vassallo

6′6″

33 – McClinton

6′1″

Wing/SF

33 – Thompson

6′6″

31 – Jones

6′6″

Power Forward

0 – Allen

6′7″

21 – Collins

6′8″

Center

14 – Davila

6′8″

0 – Graham

6′8″

Bench

34 – Diakite

6′9″

20 – McGowan

6′9″

 

10 – Thorns

5′9″

30 – Thomas

 6′7″

 

1 – Bell

6′6″

32 – Asbury

6′7″

 

21 – Witcher

6′9″

23 – Dews

6′3″

 

5 – Hudson

6′5″

 

 

This post was written by:

- who has written 1201 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

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