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.
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.
- 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.
|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):
|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)|
|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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…!