Hokies Basketball: Wake Forest at Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

After starting ACC play with two home wins over N.C. State and at the time #4 Virginia, the Virginia Tech Hokies struggled in their first ACC road game with the Duke Blue Devils beating the Hokies by 24. Today, the Hokies will look to bounce back against a Wake Forest team that has a little momentum after beating N.C. State this past weekend.

Tonight’s matchup pits two ACC programs that are on the rise with second-year head coaches in Buzz Williams and Danny Manning. Williams and Manning both have seen their programs improve this season with ESPN’s Bracketology having Wake Forest as one of the first four out of the NCAA Tournament.

A win tonight for the Hokies will bring them closer to the fringe of the NCAA Tournament conversation while the Demon Deacons will look to avoid a disappointing loss to a Virginia Tech team that is on the outside of the top 100 of the RPI.

The most important matchup tonight will come in the post between two double-double machines in Zach LeDay and Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas. LeDay has had seven double-doubles this season and is averaging 14.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game while Thomas has nine double-doubles and is averaging 16.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.

Both LeDay and Thomas are under 6’10” but are hard-working, tough big men that should provide a great matchup in the post tonight. The winner of this matchup could prove decisive in this game though this matchup very much could be a wash with other players needing to step up.

Wake Forest is one of the worst defensive teams among major conference programs ranking 302nd in the nation in points allowed per game. This game seems like a dream matchup for Virginia Tech’s sharp-shooting guard Justin Bibbs.

Bibbs has had some struggles recently against better defensive teams, but showed against Virginia that he will take advantage of poor perimeter defense. Bibbs is still shooting 56.9% from beyond the arc and has had some big outburst from beyond the arc this season.

Wake Forest’s defense will have to be effective on the perimeter or Bibbs could go off for a big night tonight.

However, Bibbs will need some help on the outside from Seth Allen and Jalen Hudson who both had poor shooting days against Duke. Allen and Hudson have both been inconsistent this season with Allen being the more effective player, but this duo will have to be more effective tonight against a weaker Demon Deacon defense.

The Demon Deacons do have the ability to stretch the floor with guard Bryan Crawford and 6’10” forward Konstantinos Mitoglou both shooting over 38% from deep. Mitoglou could be the x-factor for the Demon Deacons as a big man that can stretch the floor and rebound some averaging 6.2 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game.

The Hokies will need Kerry Blackshear to bounce back tonight, and be ready to cover all over the floor against the Greek stretch four. If the Hokies can prevent Mitoglou from being very effective on the outside, the Hokies may be able to prevent guards like Codi Miller-McIntyre from having space to attack the rim.

The Virginia Tech Hokies have a chance to add another strong win tonight, and the Demon Deacons will give the Hokies a run for their money. Virginia Tech is a one-point favorite tonight against Wake Forest and in this battle of second-year head coaches, Zach LeDay and Justin Bibbs will lead Virginia Tech to a strong win over a top-50 RPI team in Wake Forest.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 80, Wake Forest 75


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