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2024 NIT: Virginia Tech vs Ohio State Preview and Prediction

Hunter Cattoor 1 VT Duke 2023 ES
Photo Credit: Erin Smith

At 7 pm tonight on ESPN+, #3 Virginia Tech (19-14) takes on #2 Ohio State (21-13) in the NIT round of 16 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The Buckeyes are 14-4 on their home court this season, while the Hokies are just 4-12 away from Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Tech is coming off of a 74-58 win over the Richmond Spiders, while Ohio State just defeated Cornell 88-83. Overall, the Buckeyes have been impressive over the last month, winning seven of their last nine games including massive victories over two NCAA Tournament teams in Purdue and Michigan State.

The Hokies and Buckeyes don’t have much of a history against each other, having only faced off six times, with the Hokies winning four of the six. The last time they played was in Columbus back in 2005, where Ohio State ran away with a 69-56 victory.

With that said, here are my keys to the game and prediction for the Hokies vs the Buckeyes.

Keys to the Game

Matchup of the Game: Jamison Battle vs Hunter Cattoor

A matchup to watch tonight is one between two sharpshooting fifth year wings, fighting to keep their college careers alive. Battle has had a stellar career across George Washington, Minnesota, and Ohio State, averaging almost 15 points per game across his five years of action. However, Battle turned his efficiency up to a whole new level this year, draining over 47% of his shots, and almost 45% of his threes. Battle can get hot in a hurry, and when he does it is tough to knock off this Buckeyes squad. But,

Jamison Battle isn’t the only player who can light it up from long range. Hunter Cattoor, the Hokies' all-time three-point king, enters the game as a near 41% long range sniper, who can get as hot as almost anyone in the country. Expect both Battle and Cattoor to be on their “A” games as they hope to extend their college careers for at least one more game.

Virginia Tech Ball Movement

The Hokies average about 15 assists per game this year, good for 62nd in the country. The way the Hokies move the ball has proven to be the clearest indicator of a Virginia Tech win, as they are 12-0 this season when they dish out more than 15 dimes, and they are just 8-13 when they have 15 or less assists.

Everything on the offensive end runs through Sean Pedulla, and while he is also a gifted scorer, the Hokies are going to need him to focus on making his teammates better if Virginia Tech has any chance of stealing a road game tonight.

The good news for the Hokies is that Pedulla has been playing some of his best basketball lately finding buckets for himself and his teammates.

MJ Collins Ascension

After struggling to shoot the ball for much of the season, MJ Collins' scoring spark has seemingly come out of nowhere.

Even through his shooting woes, Collins made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball, as one of the Hokies' best on-ball defender. However, his ability to knock down shots has taken his game, and the Hokies' offense, to another level. Collins has gotten into double-digits in the scoring column in five-straight games and has hit a three in six of his last seven outings.

On Tuesday night against Richmond, Collins lit up the Spiders for four three-pointers on his way to another 15-point outing. When defenses felt like they didn’t have to guard Collins, it really congested the offense, but now with four three-point shooters always on the court at all times, the Hokies are able to spread out their offense and beat their opponents in many different ways.

Prediction: Ohio State 76, Virginia Tech 71

Despite a 15+ point, four three-pointer performance from Hunter Cattoor, the Hokies won’t be able to overcome their road woes, falling to an Ohio State team that has been on the rise over the last month.

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