Categorized | 2011-12 Season, Game Previews

Previews | #5 duke (5-1) and clemson (3-4) @ VT (1-5) | Th., 7 PM on ESPN and Sat., 4 PM on RSN

Spread: VT by 4 over clemson (is Vegas not watching our games)
duke was favored by 4.5 (seriously, Vegas seems to have a lofty opinion of us… yet we are 1-7 against the spread in 2012).

It’s two previews for the price of one! Double your pleasure! (“Normally you pay extra for that, Cotton.” – Dodgeball) Since the Hokies play two full games in less than 48 hours, I figured kill two previews with one post. Each year each ACC team plays a back-to-back in approximately 48 hours (the Short Turnaround Sequence, as I call it). This year, the Hokies have to do it twice (again in mid-February). Yep, our schedule keeps getting better and better (sarcasm). At least both of these games are at home. In fact, Saturdays game against clemson is Virginia Tech’s first weekend ACC home game. That’s right, we didn’t get a weekend home game until February (see my note above about our schedule).

The Hokies have actually been dominant in the back end of their ACC Short Turnarounds. While Tech is just 3-4 in the first game (3 of which have been against duke), VT is 6-1 in the second game of a Short Turnaround. Keep in mind their opponent usually doesn’t have the same turnaround. That tells you the Hokies have been able to quickly recover and focus on the back end. I also think the short turnaround boosts your shooting — you tend to get into the flow of the game more quickly since you played so recently.

So what does this all mean? I’m not predicting anything in the duke game, but I fully expect to see the Hokies beat clemson on Saturday and push their record to 7-1 in these ‘doubleheaders’, so to speak. Oh, by the way, Hokie Guru has GUARANTEED A WIN OVER duke! No, he hasn’t promised to wear pink uva stuff if we lose. And no, he hasn’t gone crazy (at least any more so than usual — just messin’ with ya).

While I will not guarantee a win, this duke team is beatable… and yes, by the Hokies. They are mostly roll players, not stars. Granted, they are very good roll players, some of which are McDonald’s All-Americans, but they are simply not as talented as in past years. Yes, they are #5 in the country, but ohio state blew them out by 22 at osu, and temple won by 5 over the blue devils at temple. duke struggled at clemson, although they did pull away at maryland late in the game last week. Still, we all know the Hokies can take down a highly ranked duke team in the Cassell, we’ve done it twice:

  • 2/26/11 – VT 64, #1 duke 60 – HIGHLIGHTS
  • 2/17/05 – VT 67, #7 duke 65 (maybe my favorite win of all time after losing by 35 at duke a month earlier)

The question is, can the Hokies slow down the duke attack and keep pace with them on the scoreboard? We shall see. To beat a dead horse, the key is getting off to a decent start. Since the Hokies will no doubt be juiced playing the #5 blue devils, we might see the level of energy we’d like to have seen all year, and that could help at the get-go.

clemson simply isn’t that good. Yes, they are 3-3 and we are 1-5, but I’m telling you, they aren’t that good (yes, I realize neither are we… but we are at home and we are NOT falling to 1-7). c-l-e-m-s-ohhhhh-n is just 11-9 on the season overall. They also lost by 2 at bc, so they have the same black eye VT does. They have lost 3 games to teams from south carolina — the gamecocks, of course, but also college of charleston and coastal carolina (the latter two were at home). They also lost to utep and hawaii. In the ACC, two of their wins are over wake and georgia tech, both at home against ACC bottom-feeders. The one good win they have is a 20-point win over fsu in their ACC opener. Yep, you read that right, they blew out fsu by 20. And it wasn’t even that close — it was 32-10 with 6 minutes to go in the first half… but that was apparently before the noles figured things out.

Update: I watched clemson lose to uva by 4 on Tuesday night, and I’ve seen them play several times this year now. They just don’t impress me offensively. They don’t have good jumpshooters other than Smith. Young shoots for a decent percentage but he’s so short he has to be wide open. The game itself was very similar to the VT @ uva game — clemson led by 4 at the half just like the Hokies, only scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half just like the Hokies, but couldn’t contain Mike Scott or Joe Harris like VT did. The tigers battled back but still lost. But they can pressure the ball out by half court and that could give the Hokies fits (especially Rankin). clemson gets 3 days of rest before facing VT.

Did you know… VT was favored on Saturday at maryland? In fact, Tech has been favored in every game but the unc and uva games this year.


vs duke –

  • All Time: duke 37-8
  • At VT: duke 8-6
  • In ACC Play: duke 8-3
  • At VT in ACC Play: duke 3-2
  • Last Year: VT won at VT, duke won in the ACC Tournament Semi-Finals

vs c-l-e-m-s-ohhh-n –

  • All Time: VT 12-11
  • At VT: VT 7-5
  • In ACC Play: clemson 6-4
  • At VT in ACC Play: clemson 3-2
  • VT’s first ACC win game on 1/15/05 against clemson at the Cassell (59-57)
  • Last Year: clemson won 69-60 at clemson in the ACC regular season finale, locking up the #4 seed for clemson and dropping VT to the #6 seed.


Pos # Player Height Year PPG
PG 11 Green 6-3 Jr 15.9
SG 1 Brown 6-5 Fr 7.7
SF 31 Eddie 6-7 So 9.9
PF 4 Raines 6-9 r-So 4.6
C 14 Davila 6-8 Sr 6.8
Bench 5 Hudson 6-5 r-Sr 11.9
15 Finney-Smith 6-8 Fr 5.6
Pos # Player Height Year PPG
G 20 Dawkins 6-4 Jr 10.2
G 0 Rivers 6-4 Fr 14.1
G 30 Curry 6-2 Jr 12.2
F 34 Kelly 6-11 Jr 12.7
F 5 Mas. Plumlee 6-10 Jr 12.0
Bench 21 Mi. Plumlee 6-10 Sr 6.7
Pos # Player Height Year PPG
G 11 Young 5-9 Sr 13.9
G 5 Smith 6-5 Sr 11.1
G 1 Sapp* 6-2 Fr 4.7
F 21 Narcisse 6-6 Sr 3.1
F/C 31 Booker 6-8 Jr 10.7
Bench Hall 6-1 Fr 4.7

*6’9″ Milton Jennings had started up until the uva game Tuesday. He has been suspended for academic reasons and is doubtful for Saturday. He was averaging 8.9 ppg and was good in transition, though he’s a lousy shot like most of the tigers.

My quick breakdown of the teams:


  • Rivers is no Irving. The son of Doc is a good slasher and a solid 3-point shooter (38%), but he can’t pick you apart like Irving could and isn’t as good of a passer. He averages more turnovers than assists. He’s averaged less than 8 ppg in 3 ACC road games.
  • Kelly isn’t as soft as in past years. Still, he’s a 6’11” guy that can burn you from the outside. But he’s getting to the line a lot more this year than in past years. He can kill you with the shot-fake, and drive to the hoop. And he is a solid rebounder on the offensive end, using his height (and ACC officials have NOT been calling over the back this year).
  • Mason Plumlee is a beast inside. But he is AWFUL from the foul line. He makes Shaq look like Reggie Miller. He went 2/11 from the line in one game, and 2/10 in another. He hits 62% from the field and 48% from the line… so foul him (“Thumb a Plum”???)
  • Curry likely wants to avenge the goose egg he posted in Blacksburg last year with his father, VT legend Dell Curry watching. He did have 10 against the Hokies in the ACC Tourney, but can he step up in the arena where his dad’s jersey hangs?
  • Dawkins is a lot like Moseley was for maryland.
  • Bench: Miles Plumlee, Thornton, Cook, and Hairston provide minutes off the bench, but none of them are spectacular. Thornton is good defensively and can drill 3-pointers when open, Miles is soft, Cook is learning how to play in the ACC, and Hairston just provides depth inside.


  • Milton Jennings, the former 5-star recruit and current huge bust, has been suspended for academic reasons. Don’t expect him to play Saturday. He missed the uva game.
  • Young is what you expect/want from a 5-9 guy – loves to bomb treys (36%, 45 makes) and can really drive and dish (he has an almost 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio… that’s awesome).
  • Smith is a solid outside shooter who has really developed his mid-range game.
  • Booker is no Booker… as in even though Devin’s improved over the years, he just even close to the talent Trevor (with the Wizards, I believe) is/was.
  • Narcisse is JT Thompson without the talent. High energy, and that’s it.
  • Hall and Sapp are freshmen guards in the ACC, which means lots of mistakes and learning on the job.
  • Yes, they do have a 7-footer like every other VT opponent (he’s actually 7’2″). Catalin Baciu averages 4 points and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes… oh, and he isn’t much of a shot-blocker.
  • clemson has a veteran lineup but they simply aren’t that talented. They have the type of veterans where you hope your stud recruits take over for them… but the tigers don’t really have any big recruits in the last few classes. Their only 4-star from the past 2 years is freshman Bernard Sullivan, who averages 1.3 ppg. Jennings was a 5-star and Booker a 4-star, both of which appear to be a joke (especially with Jennings). This is a team that way overachieved last year and is coming back to reality this year.


Note: these stats are for ACC games ONLY.

VT duke clemson
PPG 59.5 (10) 75.5 (2) 68.3 (5)
PPG vs 63.7 (3) 68.0 (7) 64.8 (4)
FT% 76% (3) 75% (4) 67% (8)
FG% 38% (12) 47% (1) 44% (6)
3-Pt% 33% (6) 34% (5) 32% (8)
Made 3s PG 6.0 (4) 7.2 (1) 5.3 (8)
FG% D 42% (3) 44% (10) 44% (9)
Rebound Margin -8.0 (12) -0.2 (7) -1.7 (9)

The ACC quit showing a lot of the stats they used to show, so that’s why this is a bit leaner than in the past. Not sure why they changed it mid-season.


Take the biggest nerd from your school, then from 4,999 other schools, and you have duke. I’m still waiting for Fox to produce a reality show where they take a florida state frat and move them to duke for a semester and let them run wild. Those nerds wouldn’t leave their dorm rooms for three months.


They beat us in the ACC Championship Game in football back in December. They beat us in our ACC regular season finale last basketball season, effectively driving a stake into our NCAA Tournament hearts. I saw it is time to exact some revenge. Who’s with me?!

This post was written by:

- who has written 1284 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.

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3 Responses to “Previews | #5 duke (5-1) and clemson (3-4) @ VT (1-5) | Th., 7 PM on ESPN and Sat., 4 PM on RSN”

  1. Casey says:

    Thumb a Plum…..awesome!

    And yes, it is high time to stick it to Clemson. I have a part-time employee who works for me in the summer and he is currently at Clemson. Apparently he went to the regular season game at Lane this year and was the only Tiger fan in the North end zone. He was telling me how lame Enter Sandman is and how Clemson’s tradition of rubbing their little rock and running down the hill was way better, and on and on about how weak Tech is…..

    Now granted that was football, but who cares…let’s beat these punks!

  2. Blue Collar Hokie says:

    I’m with you Casey, not to get all footbally here but how embarassing is it that we lose to them twice and then they get annihilated in historic fashion to west by god of all schools. . . so annoying

    but yeah we win at least one of these right?

  3. HokieGuru says:

    LOL – awesome I’m on the road to Blacksburg after work!!!


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