Categorized | 2013-14, Game Previews

The Week Ahead: Dec. 16 to 22 (vs vcu – Saturday, 12/21, 5:30 PM – NBC Sports Network)

Updated:

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:

  • 9-3
  • 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.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1198 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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  • Slam Dunk

    This is one of those games that in the preseason we would have put in the L column, but with the hope that we may could steal a win. Well, I still feel the same way, but with the two weeks to prepare maybe it will be closer than we thought. Prediction: VCU 77 – VT 70.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Not sure if you meant “home court” literally, but the Richmond Coliseum is not VCU’s home court. They play at the Siegel Center, which is just a stone’s throw away. I agree, this will probably be a fairly even split between VCU and VT fans at the game, but it really will feel like a neutral site game, in my opinion.

    • Niemo

      I clearly had tons of mistakes in this one. Apparently I’m as productive coming off a bye week as the VT football offense.

  • Alex Parker

    The lower case VCU is peculiar and the Ram’s coach is named Smart, not Smith. It’s a neutral site and the crowd will be split. VCU is playing poorly, VT playing well. This will be closer than you think. Toss up.

    • http://www.thegarycope.com/ Cope

      Alex, we lowercase ALL opponent names here on TechHoops.com.

      • Niemo

        Except for the military academies, I capitalize them.

        I agree vcu is struggling and I’ve watched them play 3 times this year (2 happened to be losses). I just think that they are a match-up nightmare for us and their strength (aggressive defense) is perfectly matched to expose our weakness (inexperienced backcourt with lack of depth). That’s why I think it will be 10+. And while I agree we will be well represented there, keep in mind VT couldn’t sell our their ticket allotment during the first stage of ticket sales for this game. But yes, it will be a neutral site type feel even though it is on their floor.

    • Vindictive_Pat

      I agree with all of that, except for the part where you said this game is a toss-up. Hokies will need a lot of luck to win this game. VCU’s entire game plan is built around creating turnovers with pressure to get easy transition buckets. VT’s biggest weakness is turning the ball over, and they haven’t faced a team yet with anywhere near the skill in creating turnovers as VCU (#1 in the nation in forcing turnovers). I’ll be at the game rooting hard for the Hokies, but if this isn’t a bloodbath, it’s only because God is a Hokie.

  • King

    The experience of playing this game will be more valuable than the outcome.

    That said, I think Tech can compete with VCU (this is not Michigan St). No doubt, Tech has to limit turnovers to keep this game close. However, I think Tech has an underrated rebounding and shot-blocking advantage. I predict the team with a higher 3-point shooting % for the game will walk away with the “W.”

    VCU’s basketball website beats Hokiesports.com hands down. It’s simple and well-organized with helpful drop-downs for player stats, box scores, and more. Nothing beats TH.

    • Niemo

      Thanks, King! Although I know we aren’t the site we used to be. Maybe once my son gets a little older I’ll be able to crank back up the production on here, but right now I’m just too [darned] tired at night!

  • FanTap Sports ACC

    VCU game will be a good preview of what’s to come for VT in the ACC. I don’t think they’re the dead-worst team in the league, but cose to it. (FanTap Sports ACC free app for Android, Windows and iOS)

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