After Winter Storm Jonas dumped over a foot of snow in Blacksburg, gameday has arrived with roads cleared and an earlier 3pm tipoff for the Virginia Tech Hokies and #2 North Carolina Tar Heels. For many fans, this was seen as a very unlikely win at the end of 2015.
However, the Hokies are 4-2 in the ACC and are now relevant again in the ACC with one big upset already at Cassell Coliseum over a Virginia team that was ranked fourth at the time they met. Now, Hokie fans and students are hoping for another huge upset in what has the potential to be one of the most insane environments ever in Cassell Coliseum.
Attention @virginia_tech students!
Don't have a ticket to today's game? Get in FREE w student ID at 2:45 pm.
Let's PACK Cassell 🏀🔥👍
— VT Men's Basketball (@VT_MBBall) January 24, 2016
Due to the weather and changing tipoff time, many fans likely will not be able to make it to Blacksburg so the Hokies will open the doors for as many students who don’t have tickets to increase the volume of Cassell Coliseum.
For Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels, they know that losing today will cost them the chance to get back to number 1 in the polls after being at the top in the preseason. However, the Tar Heels better be ready for the Hokies to leave it all on the floor in what is one of the biggest games in a few years at Cassell Coliseum.
To be clear, North Carolina is deservingly with one of the nation’s best offenses going against a defense that has not been great over the last few ACC games. The Tar Heels have six players averaging double figures this season led by Brice Johnson averaging 16.7 points per game and Marcus Paige averaging 13.2 points per game.
One of the keys for the Hokies to pulling off the upset is to not get beat too badly in the rebounding category. Johnson and Kennedy Meeks are a top frontcourt duo that average 16.5 rebounds per game while five other players average at least 3 rebounds per game.
The Tar Heels have given up a few offensive rebounds and will need a strong rebounding effort in the frontcourt led by Zach LeDay. LeDay has shown a lot of toughness and grit this season, but has struggled recently rebounding the basketball which needs to improve.
LeDay’s three-point shooting also needs to be a point of emphasis offensively for the Hokies to use him to stretch the floor and create lanes for Seth Allen, Justin Robinson, Justin Bibbs, and Jalen Hudson to attack the rim. LeDay has been the star for the Hokies this season and has the potential to make a national statement in a game between two top 7 ACC teams.
For the upset to happen, Virginia Tech will need to be firing on all cylinders including Seth Allen. Allen has had some struggles, but was very effective in the first half against Notre Dame getting some layups to go down and attacking the rim. Virginia Tech will need Allen at his best in this matchup along with Bibbs and the rest of the Virginia Tech backcourt for the Hokies to have a shot.
With the crazy weather and time change for tipoff along with students being let in for free, this game has the potential to be a wild environment that hasn’t been seen in a long time inside Cassell Coliseum. Be ready for Virginia Tech to give North Carolina a run for their money.
The Hokies have a decent chance at pulling off the upset and no one should count them out, but North Carolina may be the one great team in college basketball this year. This pick is tough to make and hopefully the upset does happen going against the prediction.