After a big win last week on the road in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge over Michigan, the Virginia Tech Hokies return to Blacksburg to begin a long home-stand that leads all the way to their home ACC opener on New Year’s Eve against Duke. That all starts tonight against what may be the worse team that the Hokies face all season, Maryland-Eastern Shore.
UMES has played some quality opponents while only having two home games so far that have provided the Hawks’ only win over a non-Division I program in Central Penn. Now, UMES faces arguably the toughest opponent they’ve played all season in the Hokies in what is a significant mismatch that the Hokies shouldn’t really have much trouble with.
The Hokies will also have a size advantage in this matchup with the tallest player for UMES being listed at 6’8”, two inches shorter than Khadim Sy while also being not much taller than Zach LeDay or Chris Clarke. UMES is averaging around 33 rebounds per game, but the Hokies should be able to outrebound the Hawks by a lot in this matchup while it could be possible to see a couple Hokies have double-doubles in this game including LeDay and Clarke.
LeDay and Clarke will also likely be matched up against UMES’s leading scorer and rebounder Bakari Copeland a lot in this game with Copeland being the undersized forward at 6’6”. While Copeland can stretch the floor to an extent, Copeland may have some issues especially against the very athletic Chris Clarke.
One guy the Hokies will have to watch a lot is guard Ryan Andino who is shooting 46.3% from beyond the arc and is second on UMES in scoring averaging 13.5 points per game. Andino could be a guy that may have a little extra energy given how well he has shot the ball and how he may look to impress as someone who could be targeted by larger programs as a quality three-point shooter after this season if he is someone eligible to be a graduate transfer.
Virginia Tech will have to watch Andino around the three-point line as the junior guard has shot at least 5 three-pointers in all 8 of UMES’s games including 10 at Wichita State and 16 in their only win against Central Penn. If the Hokies can limit Andino from deep, the Hokies may be able to pull away in this game sooner than thought.
This is another opportunity for the Hokies to also get some of their depth more experience including Ty Outlaw and Khadim Sy who have been rotational players for the Hokies and would benefit from some extra playing time along with guys that have barely touched the floor like Johnny Hamilton and Matt Galloway.
This game does not have the makings of one that will be that close, but don’t be surprised if it relatively close for at least the first 10 minutes of the first half. However, this game likely is going to get ugly and led by a lot of strong performances including a big one from Zach LeDay, the Hokies will take care of business and cruise to a blowout victory ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Ole Miss.
Pick: Virginia Tech 93, UMES 61
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