The Virginia Tech Hokies enter today’s game on a four-game winning streak with a chance of getting a seed as high as number six in the ACC Tournament. Meanwhile, the seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes come to Blacksburg looking to win at least a share of the ACC regular season title along with a top 2 seed in the ACC Tournament.
In the first matchup, the Hokies and Hurricanes were competitive in a defensive-dominant first half before getting blown out in the second half by a Miami team that was making shots when the Hokies couldn’t seem to make any. In ACC play, the Hokies have definitely played better at Cassell Coliseum with both home ACC losses being by less than 10 points.
Zach LeDay had an awful night going 2-of-9 from the field when the Hokies and Hurricanes played the first time, but LeDay has been much more effective over the last few games with a double-double against Pittsburgh most recently. LeDay should be a lot better than he was in the first matchup and that could make a big difference in this game.
One important matchup to watch will come in the frontcourt between Kerry Blackshear and Miami’s Tonye Jekiri. Jekiri is averaging over 9 rebounds per game, and the Hokies will need Blackshear to be effective boxing Jekiri out and playing quality post defense as he did in the first matchup. Blackshear has been rather quiet lately but if he has a big game today, it will make a big difference on the scoreboard.
Sheldon McClellan, Angel Rodriguez, and Davon Reed form one of the best backcourt duos in the ACC, and the Hokies will need to play some tough defense on them which may include using Devin Wilson some in this game as a veteran that is also a proven defender. The Hokies will also need Seth Allen, Justin Robinson, and Justin Bibbs to all step up on the defensive end to try and contain a trio that is averaging a total of 38.5 points per game.
Seth Allen has been shooting the ball better lately for the Hokies, but they will need him and Justin Bibbs to make some shots or some other guys like Justin Robinson and Jalen Hudson to step up. Miami has been a great defensive team all season so the Hokies will have to take advantage of any good opportunity they get on the offensive end.
This matchup also presents a potential battle for ACC Coach of the Year honors between Miami’s Jim Larranaga and Buzz Williams. Larranaga has done a great job in making Miami a national title contender this year while Williams has turned the Hokies from the ACC laughing stock to a NIT contender that has already guaranteed itself a .500 ACC record and winning overall record after four-straight season finishing at least tied for last place in the ACC.
The Hokies are definitely the underdogs against a Miami team that has its eyes on trying to do everything it can to get not only a top 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, but also a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Both teams will come out firing due to their differing objectives, and this game will come down to the end, but the Hurricanes are the better team and will beat the Hokies in a very close game.