Categorized | 2010-11 Season, Game Previews

Preview | VT (9-6, 19-9) @ clemson (8-7, 19-10) | Saturday at Noon | ESPN2

Spread: clemson by 3.

The stakes are clear and high for the Hokies on Saturday in the Battle for Fourth Place!

  • Win – See you Friday in Greensboro for the ACC Quarters and hello, NCAA Tournament!
  • Lose – Hello, Thursday in G-boro and good bye, finger nails – it’s going to be another nerve-racking Selection Sunday.

With a win the Hokies lock up at least the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament and earn their fifth First Round bye in seven years in the league (pretty darn impressive).  The Hokies could even move up to the #3 seed with a win if florida state loses at nc state this weekend (not holding my breath on that one, but the wolfpack could step up in Sidney Lowe’s last home game coaching for state).

Lose and the Hokies are all but assured the #6 seed and a date with #11 georgia tech on Thursday evening.  A game that won’t do much for their tourney resume (though the Committee does seem to value any win, even crappy ones — just look at gt last year).

Here’s how it all shakes out (fsu @ nc state, wake @ bc):

  • #3 seed: VT win, fsu loss
  • #4 seed: VT win, fsu win
  • #5 seed: VT loss, bc loss
  • #6 seed: VT loss, bc win

We knew going into the duke game the Hokies probably had to win two more regular season games and they could feel pretty confident on Selection Sunday.  Well, the fact they beat duke really solidified that.  A win at clemson Saturday would have to lock up a bid for the Hokies.  Tech missed an opportunity to seal their fate at home Tuesday, but they still control their own destiny.  Just have to regroup and take care of business.

This will be the third time in five years the Hokies finish the season with clemson (and all three times it has been the only meeting of the season… weird).  The first two times have not worked out so well for Tech.

  • 2007-08: VT lost a heartbreaker 70-69 at clemson.  The loss cost VT the #3 seed (which clemson took), and pushed VT to the #4, forcing them to play THE #1 tar heels in the semi-finals.
  • 2006-07: VT lost on a late shot to an average clemson team, 75-74, in Blacksburg.  The win cost the Hokies a share of the ACC regular season title and the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament.  Instead, they had to play their arch-nemesis, nc state, in the semi-finals and lost.

So it is payback time!

The Hokies have been Jekyll and Hyde on the road this year.  Hopefully we see the maryland/nc state/wake VT team, and not the at gt/bc/uva club.

SERIES:

The two teams have played nine times since Tech joined the ACC.  The first eight meetings were decided by just 19 points combined!  The largest margin of difference had been 5 points, with six of the eight meetings decided by 3 points or less.

Last year the Hokies took care of business after the second massive snowstorm of the season, beating clemson 70-59 (Recap) |  Highlights

  • All Time: VT 12-10
  • In ACC Play: clemson 5-4
  • At Littlejohn in ACC Play: 2-2
  • Streak: VT 2 in a row

So the Hokies have had success at clemson.  They won their last meeting there two years ago, knocking off a ranked clemson squad.

STARTERS:

Position Virginia Tech clemson
Guard 11 Green 6-4 2 Stitt 6-2
Guard 23 Delaney 6-3 11 Young 5-9
Wing/Guard 1 Bell 6-7 5 Smith 6-5
Forward/Center 0 Allen 6-7 45 Grant 6-8
Forward/Center 14 Davila 6-8 31 Booker 6-8

Don’t worry, that’s Devin Booker, not you-know-who.  Devin is just a shadow of his brother.  He’ll battle inside and scores 8 per game and grabs 5 boards, but his bro (now with the Wizards) was a beast – churning out double-doubles like they were nothing.

If you haven’t seen the tigers this year, you won’t recognize them from a year ago in terms of style of play.  Gone are the days of OPP (Oliver Purnell) and his press-you-from-the-time-you-get-off-the-bus style.  Their two talented guards, Stitt and Young, will pick you up full court, but they are just walking you up the court to make sure you don’t feel alone.  No more wild full court trap.  But they do still hang their hat on defense.  They are one of the top defensive teams in the country and will make you work for everything.  They get about 7 steals per game, but are average at rebounding and turnover margin.  They are just a bit offensively challenged.  And how weird is it to see them #1 in the ACC in FT% in conference games?  OPP really is gone.

Jerai Grant has improved night and day for them.  I’m not sure if OPP was really good at developing big men (I might think this based on how Booker developed), or if it is the regime under Brad Brownell.  Either way, the guy can play.  The senior has almost doubled his scoring from 7.2 to 12.2 this year and snags 6.7 rebounds and blocks 2.3 shots per game.  He has good skills in the low post.  Davila will have to really battle him.  Grant, who used to just be an athlete, may be too athletic for Davila to handle.  But we’ll see.  VT will need to double down on him at times if they are in man.

Stitt and Young are solid players – combining for 25 ppg, 7 rpg, and 6 apg.  Both are solid 3-point shooters around 37-38%.  Stitt can also attack the rim and score on penetration.  Young is almost exclusively a 3-point shooter and needs space since he’s just 5’9″.  Tanner Smith has shown more ability to attack the tin this year but he’s also mostly a spot up shooter.

Milton Jennings off the bench was a 5-star recruit, but has been a bit of a bust through two years.  He shoots just 27% from deep but scores about 8 per game subbing for Smith.

Bryan Narcisse is their JT Thompson.  He brings high energy off the bench.  I think of him as a black Kurt Rambis (he has goggles and throw his body around like a rag doll).

STATS (ACC Rank):

Virginia Tech clemson
RPI 63 65
PPG 70.9 (4) 66.4 (9)
Pts Against 65.9 (5) 62.8 (3)
FG % 45% (1) 42% (9)
3-Pt % 36% (4) 34% (8)
FT % 73% (4) 75% (1)
Leading
Scorer Delaney 18.8 Stitt 14.1
Rebounder Allen 10.2 Grant 6.7
Assists Delaney 4.2 Stitt 3.3
Steals Green 1.7 Stitt 1.4
Blocks Davila 1.1 Grant 2.3

Note: Team stats are from ACC games only, player stats include all games

HO-KEYS TO WINNING:

  1. Shoot for a higher 3-point %: If you didn’t see my article the other day, in VT’s last 13 games, the team that has shot for a higher percentage from deep has won.  Every time.  The good news is VT shoots 36% in conference play, third in the league, while clemson shoots 34% (8th best).
  2. TB + VD = Win: Again, if you didn’t see my article the other day, check out this… In VT’s last six wins, Terrell Bell and Victor Davila have combined for an average of 20 ppg.  In their three losses, that drops to 8 per game.  They had just 6 combined Tuesday.  VT has to get production from these guys… or hope Eddie gets hot like he did at wake or Atkins like he did at unc.  Point is they need a supporting cast for Green, Allen, and Delaney.
  3. POW Big Donut: We need to see the Jeff Allen that was player of the week three times from early January through the end of February.  But against bc the other night he grabbed just 3 rebounds (and 14 points).  It was just the 2nd time in 10 games he hasn’t had a double-double.  He’s averaged 10.5 points and 9 rebounds in 4 previous meetings.  Hopefully he doesn’t mind this bus ride to clemson too much (Gameday reference that might have been bulletin board material for clemson).
  4. tiger Killer: Malcolm Delaney has OWNED the tigers.  He’s averaged 24 ppg in four meetings, easily his high against an ACC opponent.  And we’ll never forget the 37 he put on clemson in 2009 – including a 60-footer at the half to give him 25 points at the break (VT choked that game away in the second half).  He needs to have a big game after a poor game against duke, and an average game against clemson.  His outside shot has been off of late, but maybe seeing orange will crank it up.
  5. Rechannel last Saturday: The Hokies were PUMPED last Saturday.  They were flatter than my 9th grade girlfriend on Tuesday.  They have to regain that energy they had and realize this is a NCAA Tournament play-in game, as well as a game that gets them an extra day off before the ACC Tournament.
  6. Keep Trending: Since losing at unc, the Hokies have responded to every ACC loss with two straight wins.  Well, they lost Tuesday, so I guess there’s only one thing left to do…!

This post was written by:

- who has written 1221 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

  • LuvzAznChix

    9th grade gf!? Aw, c’mon Capt. Niemo!

    • Niemo

      Oops, I miswrote that. Meant to say my current girlfriend who is in the 9th grade… kidding. This isn’t Pineapple Express.

  • http://stores.ebay.com/hip-hop-heads-vinyl-crates HipHop_Hokie

    This is going to be a very intriguing game. So much on the line for both teams… two teams that basically hold identical resumes and rankings within the RPI… and two teams that historically battle each other tooth and nail right down to the wire. With the way that our program has been kind of off-the-map the past few years with the relegations to the NIT, yet the potential for it really blow up in the next few years with our best-ever recruiting class coming in next season, this game could really end up being a huge program turning point if we can win it and catapult ourselves into the big dance. That would REALLY be big and something to build on with next year’s diaper dandies.

    Biggest game in program history? Probably not… but it’s pretty far up there for me. Come on fellas… bring this W home and then you can enjoy the well-earned bye.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    I agree with you Niemo… I think if VT wins this game, they are in the NCAA tournament. I don’t think it matters if they beat BC in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament or not (although that would certainly help improve our seed). I think VT matches up pretty well with Clemson and they should be able to win this game, but only if they bring the right intensity and decide to ruin Clemson’s senior night the same way BC ruined ours.

  • Danram

    Well, the way I look at is that if VT is truly an NCAA tournament-worthy team, they’ll get it done tomorrow somehow. Win and we’re in. The stakes couldn’t be any clearer.

  • RK in Roanoke

    Danram – I don’t think they understood the stakes. Makes Niemo’s prediction about 3pt shooting % look good though. Lots of missed open shots. This did not look like a team with 3 seniors and other guys who had played 20+ games together.

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