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Virginia Tech vs #6 Virginia Preview and Pick

Hunter Cattoor Team Huddle 1 VT CSU 2022 ES
Will Locklin | @locklin_will
Writer/Basketball Analyst

This Saturday inside Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech will play host to their arch-rival No. 6 Virginia in the second edition of the Commonwealth Clash. The Hokies are coming off a 92-83 conference loss on the road in Coral Gables to Miami.

Despite clear underdog status in terms of rankings, Tech’s offense continued to operate at a high level, posting a 114.8 offensive rating in the game.

While the Hokies still sit at a lackluster 3-8 in conference play, they’ve rebounded nicely and are on a clear upwards trajectory. Tech has won two of their past three with big time performances over Duke and Syracuse in Blacksburg.

On the other side, UVA is the hottest team in the ACC and perhaps even the country. Winners of their last seven games, the Hoos have dominated their conference opponents in this recent stretch, including the first win against Tech back in Charlottesville a couple weeks ago.

Last time the two teams faced, the Hokies got a rusty Hunter Cattoor back from injury. They performed better than they previously had, but were not good enough to make a closing run against a top 10 team in the country and fell 78-68.

The Cavaliers posted five double-digit scorers and were a buzzsaw that the Hokies struggled to stop. A few weeks removed from that game and there’s good reason to think Tech will have a much better shot at taking down the Hoos for the third-straight time in Cassell Coliseum.

How Virginia Tech Can Win:

Tech will still play the card of the underdog against Virginia but that can still play right into their hands. Tech is still on track to playing their best basketball on the offensive side that they have all year long. Defending ACC Player of the Week Grant Basile must pose a matchup threat down low against the Cavs interior defense. Although Basile has turned it on recently, he scored just 12 points on 4-11 shooting in the first showdown.

Instead, the true key for the Hokies lies on the hopes of their three ball. Tech has done a better job creating quality looks from outside in recent games. They’ve shot over 40% in each of their last three games.

Consider the guard play to be another paramount factor in Saturday night’s matchup as the play of Cattoor and point guard Sean Pedulla will play a major factor in the result of the game.

How Virginia Can Win:

The path for UVA is rather simple. First, they must tune out the roaring crowd that is sure to arrive in the form of the Cassell Guard and every other seat in Cassell Coliseum. If they can steady their ship, then the Hoos will rely on their dominant defense to outlast their opponent. The Cavs post the ACC’s best defense, allowing teams to score just 60 points per game on them which ranks first in the conference by a three point margin.

On the other side of the ball, Virginia has enough solid shot creators and playmakers to get the job done in most games. Once the other team is exhausted from the Hoos' defense, that’s when the likes of Armaan Franklin, Reece Beekman and others can use their unique size and athleticism to exploit weak points and run effective offense.

UVA executed this formula in their first matchup, but this Hokies team has a much better outlook than the one they took down in the past.

Prediction: #6 UVA 68, Virginia Tech 64

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