Virginia Tech tries to make it three in a row as the Hokies take on the 9-10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Cassell Coliseum Saturday afternoon. VT is coming off back to back wins against ACC foes while Georgia Tech has fallen in seven of their past eight ACC matchups. Here are the Hokies' keys to the game in order for them to get a win.
1. Sean Pedulla & MJ Collins Must Produce Offensively
Virginia Tech’s guard play has been shotty to say the least this season. It seems like Sean Pedulla is leading the charge of Tech’s turnover bug in every game where the Hokies have 15 or more miscues. Collins, on the other hand, has been an inconsistent scorer in his sophomore campaign. But has a fair share of breakout games where he comes alive as a secondary scoring option in the Hokies offense.
Take last game for example, where Collins totaled 11 points, but nine of which were in the first half, which helped the Hokies catapult themselves over Boston College. Pedulla didn’t get going until the last five minutes and fouled out of the game in the final minute. But, the junior point guard was instrumental in Tech’s fourth ACC win, as he drained several late shots to hold the Hokie advantage.
Collins and Pedulla are ultra talented, but must find a consistent balance to support Hunter Cattoor, who everyone knows will produce at a high level. If Virginia Tech can get consistent guard play, they’ll more than likely cruise to victory. It’s been the give and take all season long as Tech’s guard play will either win them a game or cost them a game.
2. Hokies Need To Bury the Yellow Jackets As Early As Possible
More than anything, to not let an upset happen in Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech must not let Georgia Tech get comfortable. The Yellow Jackets are just 2-6 in ACC play, but their two victories came against Duke and a close overtime win against Clemson. Georgia Tech isn’t the pushover that some make them out to be. The Hokies can’t find that out when it’s too late and to ensure a win, they must get out to a fast start.
Big scoring bursts for Virginia Tech are paramount to their success, it’s what makes them an explosive offensive team depending on the night.
On offense, Tech must open the night hot from three-point range. It’s the swing factor on this team. The Hokies must move the ball well and make the extra passes to get open three-point looks for their best shooters in Hunter Cattoor and especially Tyler Nickel, who has been quiet outside of the Clemson and NC State games. In a game where you don’t want to underestimate your opponent, getting out to a good shooting start is important for Virginia Tech.
3. Let’s See a Big Outing From Lynn Kidd in ACC play
Lynn Kidd has been an absolutely incredible development story for Mike Young and Virginia Tech. As a sophomore, he saw almost no minutes at all and in his junior year, Kidd was a backup big man to Grant Basile. In his senior season, Kidd has nearly tripled his scoring output from a year ago and is the team’s leading rebounder. His play has been instrumental to Tech’s success on offense as his game in the post and finishing ability on lobs at the basket provide lots of value. However, Kidd’s production has slowed down a bit when going against ACC opponents.
Since his career high 31-point outing vs American, Kidd has scored at his best 16 points and at his lowest two points (twice). He’s posted four double-digit scoring games with three games of less than 10 points. Some of this is due to ACC teams scouting Kidd’s play from the non-conference slate so in many ways, it’s not directly Kidd’s fault.
However, if Tech could find a way to intentionally get Kidd activated, that would go a long way. I believe Kidd could be in for his best performance against an ACC opponent, which would help the Hokies out a lot in their contest versus the Yellow Jackets.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 78, Georgia Tech 62
I think the Hokies will take care of business due to a hot shooting start and take down the Yellow Jackets by 16 points. It will be Tech’s fifth win in conference play and elevate the Hokies to above the .500 mark in ACC play for the first time since their ACC opening win over Louisville.