After three close losses, the Virginia Tech Hokies suffered their fourth-straight loss by 19 points at Pittsburgh in what was one of the worst games of the season for Virginia Tech. Tonight, Virginia Tech will look to end their four-game losing streak, but face a tough opponent on the road in the Carrier Dome in the Syracuse Orange.
The Orange have been firing on all cylinders recently with five wins in their last six games that include victories against Notre Dame and at Duke. Syracuse is not a deep team at all with five players that average over 30 minutes per game and only six that average at least 10 minutes per game.
However, the Orange had a close call against Georgia Tech at home this past weekend, and no one should expect the Hokies to suffer another blowout loss as they did on Sunday.
Part of the strategy for Buzz Williams and company will have to be to try to keep the pace fairly high against a team without much depth. Virginia Tech will also want to take advantage of the fact that this is a team that is great at attacking the rim to try and get the Orange into serious foul trouble, which could have a big impact.
The Orange have some threats shooting the ball from the outside with four of their six-man rotation shooting over 35% from beyond the arc. Virginia Tech’s perimeter defense will have to be strong tonight with players like Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije having the ability to have big games shooting the basketball.
Virginia Tech will need Seth Allen and Jalen Hudson to be productive in attacking the rim against Syracuse’s tough zone defense. Allen and Hudson have been successful in doing that recently while Allen had his best shooting performance from beyond the arc against Pittsburgh.
With Zach LeDay’s ability to stretch the floor, the lanes will likely be there for Allen and Hudson to attack, but the Hokies will need them to step up and get the job done.
Another concern comes in the post where the Hokies will need to do a great job of boxing out Tyler Roberson. Roberson may be averaging only 8.9 rebounds per game, but this is a guy who has proven he can have 20-rebound performances if a team fails to effectively box him out.
The Hokies will need LeDay, Kerry Blackshear, Shane Henry, and Johnny Hamilton to all be effective in boxing out Roberson depending on whoever is matched up against him. If the Hokies fail to do so, Roberson may give Syracuse as many extra opportunities as Brice Johnson and the North Carolina frontcourt got recently against the Hokies.
The man who once again can be the x-factor is sharpshooter Justin Bibbs. Bibbs hasn’t been playing as well recently but when the sophomore guard gets going, he has the potential to have 25+ points and make a big difference on the outcome. The Hokies will need Bibbs to step up tonight and provide some quality catch-and-shoot play from beyond the arc against the Syracuse zone.
This will be a tough matchup for the Hokies, but Virginia Tech will be desperate for a win while the Orange may be a little vulnerable after a close win against Georgia Tech. The Orange may be the favorites in many minds by a decent mind, but the Hokies will make keep it close to the end with Syracuse just finding a way to survive.