After suffering a tough overtime loss to Northwestern in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, the Virginia Tech Hokies bounced back on Saturday with a blowout 80-45 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Tonight, the Hokies play their only true road game on their non-conference schedule against the Radford Highlanders in a local New River Valley rivalry.
For Radford, this is the first time that they have ever hosted an ACC opponent for basketball, and fans are definitely excited about the visit of the Hokies.
Tomorrow's #Hokies game at Radford's 3,200-seat Dedmon Center is sold out. Radford expects a beyond-capacity crowd of close to 4,000.
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) December 8, 2015
A Dedmon Center record attendance seems likely tonight while other reports suggest that Radford also saved a significant number of tickets for students to create what will likely be a raucous atmosphere even with the likelihood of a decent-sized Virginia Tech presence in Radford.
However, the Hokies know that the Highlanders will be looking to pull off another big upset after road wins earlier in the season against Georgetown and Penn State. The Highlanders have been inconsistent with four losses on the season at VCU and at home to Siena, James Madison, and Coastal Carolina.
Statistically speaking, this game does not project to be as close as it likely will be largely due to the inconsistent play of Radford from winning by 12 at Penn State to getting beat by 14 at home to Siena. Radford is coming off a 5-point loss to Coastal Carolina, but that may have been a trap game for them with the showdown against the Hokies looming.
With all that said, Virginia Tech should expect nothing less than Radford’s best, and must be ready for a serious challenge.
Entering tonight’s game, the Hokies lead the nation in free throw attempts, but are only shooting 67% from the free throw line. Chris Clarke and Zach LeDay both seem to get to the free throw line fairly often, and the Hokies will need Clarke and LeDay to lead the way tonight in making their free throws.
Seth Allen’s energy has increased, and the Hokies have benefited because of it with Allen having 23 points against UAB and 25 points against Northwestern. Allen didn’t play as much against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but the Hokies will need the experienced guard to make some big shots tonight in what will be a loud environment.
Justin Bibbs is definitely the x-factor that seems poised for multiple big games soon as the Hokies’ main three-point shooter. The sophomore guard hasn’t been the offensive centerpiece he was last season, but his shooting has been impressive with a three-point shooting percentage of 65.5% that is third in the nation.
If the Hokies can get Bibbs consistently open, a 20 to 25-point night seems very possible.
Virginia Tech has been much-improved on the glass and ranks 12th in the nation in rebounds per game while Radford is tied for 163rd in the nation. The Hokies will look to Zach LeDay, Kerry Blackshear, and Chris Clarke to bring plenty of toughness and control the glass to get some important second-chance opportunities on the road.
This will be a tough, back-and-forth game that will come down all the way to end. The Hokies are in for a challenge on the road against Radford, but this team will definitely remember what happened last year when the Highlanders surprised the Hokies. Expect a close game, but the Hokies will get the job done led by some big shots from Seth Allen and Justin Bibbs.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 77, Radford 73