Virginia Tech vs Pittsburgh Preview and Picks

Virginia Tech vs Pittsburgh Preview and Picks
Photo Credit: Erin Smith

Will Locklin | @locklin_will

TLP: Writer/Basketball Analyst
Feb 17, 2023

Virginia Tech plays host to one of the best and certainly most surprising teams in the ACC this Saturday as they will take on the 19-7 (12-3 ACC) Pittsburgh Panthers. Coming off a backbreaking loss in Atlanta, Tech desperately needs a win to stake any claim at an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, if that possibility is even on the table.

It can be argued that the hopes of March Madness will be settled in Greensboro and not in the remainder of the regular season. However, there’s still a basketball game to be played and an opportunity to get a good win against a good opponent for the Hokies.

Tech comes in losers of two of their last three games but winners of four of their last seven contests. Meanwhile, the Panthers are in a highly contested fight at the top of the ACC standings with Virginia and Miami. Pitt has won six straight ACC games and hasn’t lost since January 21st where they fell to Florida State. Safe to say, the Hokies will have their hands full Saturday afternoon with one of the best and hottest teams in the conference.

How Virginia Tech Can Win:

Despite the odds seeming to not be in Tech’s favor, the Hokies will certainly have an opportunity to come out with a win if they play at their best. Then sixth ranked Virginia came into Cassell Coliseum atop of the conference and on a big time win streak. Yet, Tech played their A-game and defeated the Cavaliers. Tech’s best version of themselves can beat any team in the conference. However, the question has been and still is, will they perform at that level.

The good news is Tech is far more likely to play at their best within the confines of Cassell Coliseum than on the road. The Hokies will need to rely on the energy of the crowd and play to that advantage. The best way to do so is for Tech to come out of the gate on a fast start.

They must punch the Panthers in the mouth and get out to a sizable lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. Pittsburgh is top 5-6 in most if not all major statistical categories across the ACC so there isn’t an obvious weakness to attack.

Per usual, the play of Tech’s guards will make or break the result for the Hokies. Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor must have efficient shooting nights. Tech can’t win just off the backs of monster nights from Grant Basile and Justyn Mutts. It’s imperative that the Hokies make it a well rounded affair offensively.

On the other end, Tech can most likely only pray that Pitt is off their game as the Panthers' offense will likely blow by the Hokies' defense. Tech has to make it a high scoring game in order to have a chance.

How Pittsburgh Can Win:

On paper, this is a game Pittsburgh shouldn’t have too much OF a problem with. The Panthers outclass the Hokies offensively, defensively, rebounding and in other areas as well. They’re playing much better basketball at the moment and aren’t getting the Hokies at their best.

Tech is looking like a lost team while the Panthers are playing with all the mojo and confidence in the world. The best way for Pitt to find themselves victorious is to play their style of basketball which they know works and not bend to the will of a Tech team with nothing to lose at home.

The Panthers have the athletes and coaching to match Tech and even exceed them. What will be interesting is if the Hokies do indeed come out as aggressors, how will they respond when challenged. Since Pitt is a team with lots of toughness and resilience, they’ll likely be up to the challenge which bodes well for their chances on Saturday. Worse teams than Pitt have knocked the Hokies down so it’s fair to think that the Panthers will do the same.


Will Locklin: Pittsburgh 78, Virginia Tech 69

Tim Thomas: Virginia Tech 76, Pittsburgh 71

You may be surprised by this one especially after Will's sharp breakdown but there is a weakness on this team, their protection of the basketball. Pitt is averaging 12.1 turnovers per game which averages a weak 231st in the country while Tech is one of the better teams in the country at protecting the basketball. That has improved to 10.4 per game in conference play but that's a clear vulnerability.

Additionally, Tech has played significantly better at home than they have on the road this season. Fact is that when Hunter Cattoor is healthy, their only home loss was the shock one to Boston College with home wins over UVA, Duke, UNC, Dayton, and many others. Tech has underperformed relative to their talent and their backcourt will bounce back to give the Hokies another solid home victory.