I’ll add some additional notes here leading up to tip-off on Saturday:
- vcu is favored by 10. The rams beat wofford 72-57 on Tuesday to move to 9-3 heading into this game.
- vcu (as Pat mentioned) is #1 in the nation in steals per game at 12.4, a full steal ahead of anyone else. Keep in mind, that’s just steals and doesn’t include all other turnovers such as deadball turnovers. VT averages 13.6 turnovers per game (238th in the nation).
- The rams have 5 guys averaging more than a steal per game. Wilson leads VT at just 0.6 steals per game. Weber for vcu has more steals himself (45) than the entire VT team (31).
- vcu actually shoots as many 3s per game as the Hokies (21), but shoot a much lower percentage at 36% compared to VT’s 44%. Lewis is vcu’s best shooter percentage-wise (and has the best ‘do on the team), but doesn’t shoot a ton. Graham will shoot a ton and is streaky, hitting about 37% of his 3s (he’s on a hot streak, though — 13/24 – 54% — over his last 5 games)
FULL PREVIEW: The Hokies continue their 12 days off this week following their ACC opener win at miami. On Saturday, Virginia Tech finally returns to action, playing former Metro Conference rival vcu in the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic at the Richmond Coliseum (hampton and jmu play at 3 PM preceding the vcu/VT game). The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. While this is technically a neutral site game and probably will have a pretty fair split among vcu and VT fans, the game is being played near vcu’s home court, thus making this a road tune-up of sorts.
As for the game, you probably couldn’t find a worse match for the Hokies. vcu, led by Head Coach Shaka Smart (allegedly a candidate for the VT job two years ago), has made the NCAA Tournament three years in a row, winning at least one game each year and reaching the Final Four in 2011.
Thing to Watch: The main reason they will present such a challenge to the Hokies is their style – vcu will press Tech from the time pull into the Commonwealth’s capital city. The rams love to press and trap full court and the Hokies, with a very young backcourt, have not looked good against full court pressure so far this year. Luckily, VT has had almost two weeks to prepare for it. Tech’s lack of depth, though, will present another challenge if the guards tire (or get in foul trouble).
To have any chance to be competitive in this game, the Hokies must limit their turnovers (14 or fewer turnovers) and find ways to aggressively attack the press and get some easy buckets.
Stats of the Week:
- Virginia Tech is 9th in the nation in 3-Point % at 43.9%
- Devin Wilson is 40th nationally in assists per game (5.5)
Hokie Leaders (through Dec. 15):
- PPG: Eddie – 19.3 (Smith 14.2)
- Rebounds: Eddie – 7.0 (Barksdale 6.7)
- Assists: Wilson – 5.5
- Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.0
- Steals: Wilson – 0.6
Hokie Team Stats (through Dec. 15):
- PPG: 77.6
- Opp PPG: 69.6
- FG%: 46%
- Opp FG%: 38%
- 3-Pt%: 44%
- Opp FG%: 30%
- FT%: 71%
VT vs vcu:
- Even, 10-10 (Teams haven’t played since 1995 when the Metro Conference disbanded)
vcu’s Records This Season:
- Key Wins: 59-56 at #25 uva
- Losses: 85-67 vs florida state (fsu manhandled them), 84-80 vs georgetown, and 77-68 at northern iowa
- vcu has been a bit of a disappointment this year, reaching #10 in the rankings before losing two of three games in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament. They just lost to a 4-5 northern iowa team.
vcu’s Best Player(s):
- Treveon Graham (6’6″ junior guard): 16.3 ppg (leads team), 6.5 rebounds per game (2nd), 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals)
- Best Defender: Briante Weber (6’2″ junior point guard) – 3.8 steals per game (#1 nationally)
PREDICTION: Unfortunately, I think the Hokies will get run off the floor and lose by double digits due to the vcu pressure. Even if VT handles the press early, I think it will eventually take its toll and the young, and not deep, Baby Bird backcourt. Hey, I was wrong about miami, so let’s hope I’m wrong here.