Virginia Tech's regular season comes to an end with Senior Day against a Florida State team that has struggled most the season, but shown some life lately including with their stunning comeback win over Miami last Saturday. The Hokies and Seminoles are currently tied in the ACC standings with the winner set to be the 11 seed taking on Notre Dame and the loser being the 12 seed taking on Georgia Tech on Tuesday in Greensboro.
So with that said, here are my three things to watch for the Hokies against the Noles.
1. Can Virginia Tech Dominate From Three-Point Range?
There's a clear mismatch in Virginia Tech's favor when it comes to scoring from three-point range.
The Hokies haven't been as good as expected from three-point range, but they are still shooting over 35% from three with numerous quality options from deep. Meanwhile, FSU has struggled on both ends on the perimeter ranking second to last in ACC games shooting 32.6% from three while being the worst ranked perimeter defense in the ACC with ACC opponents shooting an absurd 40% from deep against them.
This feels like a potential Hunter Cattoor showcase game given the deficiencies that the Noles have defensively on the perimeter, playing at home where just about every player in America is more comfortable, and the emotions of playing in what could be his final game as a Hokie should he choose not to use his free COVID year next season. Cattoor also has shot it well from three this season making 42.4% of his threes overall this season including 44.9% in ACC games.
Tech also has plenty of solid options from three-point range including stretch 5 Grant Basile who is shooting 38% from deep in ACC play plus freshman MJ Collins who has picked up his three-point shooting as the season has progressed and has made 35.1% of his threes in ACC games. This also isn't including Sean Pedulla who hasn't been the most efficient in conference action, but has plenty of shooting talent and has made the Seminoles pay before.
If Tech is going to win this game, they have to take advantage of the opportunity they have on the perimeter against a Florida State team that struggles on both ends of the floor from deep.
2. Control The Tempo
This Virginia Tech team has played with a little more pace than we've seen from Hokies' team of the past under Mike Young ranking 211th in KenPom's adjusted tempo ratings.
Meanwhile, Florida State ranks in the top 100 as you might expect given how Leonard Hamilton loves to go 9-10 deep being able to make almost hockey type lineup changes to keep fresh bodies on the floor at all times. While Tech does have some depth, you know Florida State will want to try to get into their tempo to test that depth for the Hokies or force them to play guys for more possessions than they would like to.
If Tech wants to get the job done in this game, it has to start with playing their style of basketball and not letting the Seminoles dictate the tempo of this game. Yes, the Hokies should look for some transition opportunities off turnovers, but Tech is at their best slowing the tempo down, playing in the half court, and running their numerous offensive plays and sets combined with lots of off-the-ball movement.
If Tech can dictate the tempo of this game, then there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to take care of business in this game.
3. Does Justyn Mutts Have a Special Senior Day Performance?
Justyn Mutts may not have started his career as a Hokie, but years and plenty of passion from him on the court and interacting the fans including starting "Let's Go Hokies" chants during games, something I've never seen a VT basketball player do at Cassell Coliseum while playing. Of course, Mutts also has become a fan favorite because of the fact that
After three seasons with the Hokies, his final regular season home game in the maroon and orange has arrived. The question that remains is does he have one more memorable performance at Cassell Coliseum in him?
It's definitely possible as Mutts has played fairly well even with Tech's struggles during ACC play scoring in double figures in nine of his last 10 games while having three double-doubles during that stretch as well. There definitely should be plenty of energy in the building as well even as many Tech students may be out of town with spring break starting this weekend for VT.
Mutts will undoubtedly be aware that this is his final regular season home game as a Hokie which may provide a little extra motivation to put on a show one last time in front of the Hokie faithful.
So can Justyn Mutts put together one more memorable performance at Cassell Coliseum in the maroon and orange? It wouldn't surprise me if he does just that.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 78, Florida State 71
Neither team may be playing great, but Virginia Tech has a clear advantage on the perimeter that they can dominate while they also have more depth than they've had in a long time to counter FSU's depth. They may need to go nine-deep with John Camden picking up a few minutes, but the fact that they have that luxury unlike some past teams should help as well.
Combine that with playing at home and Justyn Mutts playing his final home game and there's plenty of reasons to believe the Hokies can get Mutts (and Hunter Cattoor though he could return next season) a victory on Senior Day.