Wooden Legacy: Virginia Tech vs. Texas A&M Preview and Pick

Seth Allen attacks the lane against Maine: Credit Harley Taylor
Seth Allen attacks the lane against Maine: Credit Harley Taylor

The Virginia Tech Hokies demolished New Mexico yesterday on their to a 92-72 victory in the opener of the Wooden Legacy that made a statement about how good this Virginia Tech team could be. Today, they face a completely different matchup in a young Texas A&M team that is loaded with size and youth along with hopes that the Aggies won’t have much of a drop off after last year’s strong season out of College Station.

This is a very interesting matchup for the Hokies as Texas A&M has plenty of big men and will force guys like Zach LeDay and Chris Clarke to regularly guard players that are bigger than them while Khadim Sy may see a minutes increase to accommodate for these matchups. Four of the Aggies’ top 5 scorers are listed as at least 6’9”, creating an interesting matchup between the Aggies’ size and the Hokies’ smaller athleticism.

Texas A&M is averaging 42.8 rebounds per game so far with four different players averaging at least 5 rebounds per game and seven averaging at least 3.5 rebounds per game. The Hokies will have to be ready to be aggressive in fighting for rebounds and not giving a Texas A&M team easy chances to get rebounds by failing to box out one of their big men.

One place where the Hokies must attack is in the backcourt where Texas A&M only has three players that are averaging over 10 minutes per game and have little depth. Texas A&M likely will go with bigger matchups as well giving the Hokies some room to attack if they can stretch the floor and create lanes to attack the rim as they did so well against New Mexico.

Virginia Tech’s backcourt has a lot of confidence especially after the way Justin Robinson dominated New Mexico yesterday while Ahmed Hill continues to be scoring at a high level. Expect Hill to have another strong performance in this continuing to shoot at a high rate from beyond the arc while Robinson won’t score as many but will be making things happen.

This also feels like the type of big game where Seth Allen seems to step up and thrive as someone who is one of the best in the ACC at attacking the rim and either getting a layup, dishing the ball to an open player, or drawing a foul and getting to the free-throw line. Against what is definitely weaker opposition after not having to play too much yesterday, Allen will be ready to go for this matchup and that is a very dangerous thing for the Aggies who may face a big performance from the senior point guard.

While much of the talk with the Aggies surrounds talented center Tyler Davis, D.J. Hogg presents an even greater matchup challenge given his size and ability to do everything as Hogg is averaging 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game while shooting 48.9% from the field and 47.8 from beyond the arc as the Aggies’ best three-point shooter.

For the Hokies, Chris Clarke and Zach LeDay will likely be matched up on Hogg with the athletic Clarke being a very interesting matchup that would likely be preferable for the Hokies compared to the hard-working LeDay who is a tough player but also not the best defender. If the Hokies can find a way to limit Hogg’s ability to stretch the floor and make outside shots, Virginia Tech will be able to force Texas A&M to plow through them to win this game which they can do but still will be a harder path.

Another interesting matchup will be between the aforementioned Tyler Davis and Khadim Sy who hasn’t faced a big man nearly as good as Davis. Davis is averaging 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in only 21 minutes per game but Sy has been rebounding at a better rate with 5.5 rebounds in only 15.3 miuntes per game to also go with 7.5 points and 1.3 blocks. While Davis is quite good, expect Sy not to look out of his league in this matchup even if Davis ends up having a big game as he likely will.

This is a very good matchup between two teams that have the talent to be playing in the NCAA Tournament that have two different styles. Expect the Aggies to win the battle on the boards and get some putbacks purely because of their size, but the Hokies have the talent to take down a bigger Texas A&M team and their experience compared to the Aggies will make a difference. With Seth Allen, Ahmed Hill, and Zach LeDay leading the way, Virginia Tech will advance to the Wooden Legacy final and gain a big win to add to their resume.

Pick: Virginia Tech 82, Texas A&M 77

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