Update: Tech will face miami of ohio tonight. They are also 2-2 and had an 11-point win over liberty, so very comparable to the Hokies. northwestern beat the redhawks by 9.
The Baby Birds of Virginia Tech were thoroughly blasted by the experienced northern iowa panthers, 54-73. The only question was would it be a Reverse Bear Fight (20-point loss) for the Hokies, but a late Satchel Pierce bucket helped Tech avoid that indignation.
The panthers returned all 5 starters and about 92% of their points from a year ago, compared to the Hokies who returned about 9% of their points on a last place club. And the experience levels proved vital. northern iowa came out unconscious from the field and line, hitting 6/8 three-pointers to start and 10/11 free throws in the first half (compared to just 1 free throw and 4/9 on threes for VT).
Also give uni credit for being aggressive early while the officials were calling the game tight and getting to the line. The Hokies had been called for 5 fouls before a single one was called on uni, leading to Buzz’s first technical as a Hokie 4-minutes into the game.
The panthers used their hot shooting to take a 40-31 lead into the break.
After halftime, a Justin Bibbs jumper cut the lead to 40-33. That’s when the wheels came off as uni destroyed the Hokies with the pick-and-roll, plus their guards off the dribble, and went on a 17-2 run to put the game away at 57-35.
Joey van Zegeren led Tech with 15 points and 6 rebounds on 7/10 shooting. No other Hokie reached double digits.
uni shot 50% for the game, the first Tech opponent to surpass 42%. They only hit 1 of their final 10 threes, but it didn’t matter. The panthers nailed 18/20 free throws (90%) and had just 9 turnovers compared to 14 for VT. The previous 3 opponents all had at least 15 turnovers and VT had a +15 turnover margin (+5 per game) coming in.
Tech shot a respectable 48% from the field and were 7/18 on threes just like uni, but the Hokies had just 8 FTAs and hit just 3 (JvZ was 1/5 from the line). As you’ll see below, this team really has no midrange jump-shooters right now. It is either a layup, a JvZ hook in the paint, or a 3-ball. The Hokies have to be able to find more points in that huge space.
On defense, the Hokies did show some full court trapping, and did get a turnover out of it, but the half court defense was pretty lousy tonight. Guys looked like they had tired legs and weren’t getting through screens (and got elbows from their teammates when they did), weren’t moving quick enough on help D on the picks, or just got burned off the dribble. They better sleep fast tonight.
The Hokies will play the loser of northwestern and miami (Ohio) at 7 PM on Wednesday, also on CBSSN.
- In the Paint: 12/17 (71%)
- Midrange Jumpers/Runners/Hooks: 3/11 (27%)
- 3-Pointers: 7/18 (39%)
- All Field Goals: 22/46 (48%)
- Free Throws: 3/8 (38%)
For those of you that don’t get Watch ESPN, you’ll finally be able to see the Hokies play on regular TV Tuesday night when Tech takes on the 4-0 northern iowa panthers in the semi-finals of the Cancun Challenge from Mexico. The panthers finished just 16-15 last year but had been to the postseason 5 years in a row before that (2 CITs, 1 NIT, and back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips in 2009 and 2010 — and in 2010 they beat #8 seed unlv AND #1 seed kansas before falling to michigan state in the Sweet 16. That team went 30-5… but like I said, that was now 5 seasons ago.
This panther club out of the Missouri Valley Conference is off to a 4-0 start, but they haven’t exactly beaten name opponents unless you consider nd (north dakota, not notre dame), stephen f. austin, morgan state, or north florida a name program. Their closest game was a 2-point win at stephen f. austin in overtime that snapped Stone Cold’s 34-game home winning streak, so that’s mildly impressive (the list of teams they beat in that 34 game streak isn’t much to look at other than jmu).
That said, Vegas (and now Atlantic City since sports gambling is legal there) see northern iowa as the clearly better team in this match-up…
The panthers opened as 8.5-point favorites (and already been bet up to 10).
The Hokies are coming off their first loss in the Buzz Williams Era, a 65-63 heartbreaker on a lucky shot with a second to go (though, to be honest, appalachian state deserved to win given their huge rebounding margin — they grabbed 50% of their misses which is inexcusable given that appy state wasn’t very big or tall).
I was a little hard on the Hokies. That was because:
- I was pretty ticked about the simultaneous Hokie football loss to 2-8 wake
- See #1 and repeat it about 1,000 times
Reality is I never expected to run the table on our 12 out of conference games leading up to Breakfast at Morgantown on December 30th. I didn’t expect to a team that went 9-21 last year and had lost to ohio and furman by almost Bear Fight-fashion in both games, but I digress. We knew there would be growing pains with a team that returned just 3 scholarship players with experience and has just 9 scholarship players available this year (with 0 seniors). Perhaps I stated that appalachian state was “awful” one too many times in my preview, maybe the guys looked past the mountaineers. And I can give the guys a pass — they were hours away from leaving frigid Blacksburg and heading to Cancun for an early Spring Break. I assume visions of beach balls and sand already danced in their heads.
That said, this is one of Tech’s best out of conference opponents (I know, that is sad considering this team went 16-15 and plays in the MVC) and they have tons of experience, featuring 4 seniors and 2 juniors out of their main 9 players. They have oodles more experience than the Hokies, especially in terms of playing together. Let’s hope we see a better effort on Tuesday and start to see what Buzz-Ball really is.
- PPG: Bibbs 11.7 (Smith 10.3)
- RPG: JvZ 5.3 (Muller 4.3)
- APG: Wilson 6.0 (Bibbs 2.0)
- SPG: Wilson/Muller 2.0
- FG%: Wilson 80% (Tech has 5 guys at 50% or better with at least 10 attempts!)
- 3-PT%: Muller 4/9 (44%), Bibbs 3/7 (43%), Smith 5/12 (42%)
The Opponent: northern iowa
- Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa
- Enrollment: 13,168
- Conference: Missouri Valley
- Colors: (think jmu)
- Famous Alums: Kurt Warner
- Last Year: 16-15 (10-8 MVC), no postseason
- Best Player: #10 Seth Tuttle – 6’8″ 240 lbs. Senior – 17 PPG and 7.3 RPG (both lead the team) — shoots an amazing 74% from the field!!! (23/31 FGs) Has also made all 3 of his three-point attempts though he does a lot of his work inside. Tuttle was 7/7 from the field and 4/4 from the line in their last game (think Laettner vs kentucky).
- Other Key Players:
- #11 Wes Washpun — 6’1″ junior guard — 12 PPG off the bench — shooting 76% from the field!!!; 3 APG. Doesn’t shoot the 3 much though.
- #4 Paul Jesperson (yep, that one from uva) — 6’6″ Soph wing — 8.3 PPG, 50% on 3s
- #1 Deon Mitchell — 6’1″ senior point guard — 8.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 SPG
- #12 Marvin Singleton — 6’6″ senior forward — 6.3 PPG and RPG
- #20 Jeremy Morgan — 6’5″ Soph guard — 4.8 PPG
- They go a legit 5 deep on their bench with 10 guys seeing 9+ minutes and 8 seeing 15+ minutes
Key Match-Up: VT allows opponents to shoot just 38% on the season, but northern iowa shoots 49%, including their two best scorers who shoot over 74%!!! Yeesh. Of course, if you allow a 50% offensive rebounding percentage, misses don’t matter as much. Tech must limit Tuttle and Washpun and secure the rebounds/loose balls. This panther team has no real 3-point threats (Jesperson, a uva transfer, has hit 7/14 but that’s about it). VT can pack it in.
Prediction: Hokies lose by 8, barely covering the spread. The panthers experience is just too much and they keep a close, but safe margin and put it away with good free throw shooters.