2012-13 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Iowa

, TechSideline.com, on November 26, 2012
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The Hokies are off to their best start since the 1984-85 season, but the competition will become much more intense on Tuesday night when Iowa comes to town.  Virginia Tech is 5-0 on the season, but their computer numbers are not strong.  Tech is ranked #249 in the RPI, with a strength of schedule ranking of #341 (out of 346).

Those computer numbers are so low because of the RPI rankings of the first five opponents.  These rankings are taken from StatSheet.com.

ETSU: #251
Rhode Island: #145
VMI: #200
UNC-Greensboro: #224
Appalachian State: #317

It’s much too early to worry about the RPI yet.  After all, UNC is currently #167 in the RPI.  However, that is a good example of the level of competition of the Hokies have faced.  In the RealTimeRPI.com rankings, Virginia Tech is next-to-last in the ACC in the RPI, despite being one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the league.

The next opponent – Iowa – is much different from those first five.  The Hawkeyes are 5-1 overall and ranked #50 in StatSheet’s RPI, with a strength of schedule that ranks #132.  Here is a look at Iowa’s schedule and results thus far…

Texas Pan American (#262): 86-55 win
Central Michigan (#90): 73-61 win
Howard (#288): 66-36 win
Gardner-Webb (#146): 65-56 win
Western Kentucky (#118): 63-55 win
Wichita State (#51): 75-63 loss

That’s a tougher schedule than Virginia Tech has played, though with so much season ahead of us, there is a lot of room for RPI’s to move up and down.

The Iowa Coach

The Hawkeyes are coached by Fran McCaffery, who is in his third season.  He took over a program that was near the bottom of the Big Ten and went 11-20 in his first season.  Last year they improved to 18-17 and made the NIT, and this year they were projected to be middle of the pack in their league before the season began.

McCaffery has had three previous head coaching jobs, and done well at all of them…

Lehigh: 3 years, 49-40 record, 1 NCAA Tournament
UNC-Greensboro: 6 years, 90-87 record, 1 NCAA Tournament, 1 NIT
Siena: 5 years, 112-51 record, 3 straight NCAA Tournaments to close his tenure

McCaffery has a habit of taking programs that haven’t been winning and quickly turning them into winners.  At Siena, he also maintained a 100% graduation rate amongst his players.  He’s the ideal coach for the Hawkeyes.

The Iowa Players

Here’s a look at Iowa’s projected starting lineup…

G Mike Gesell (6-1, 185, Fr.): 8 ppg, 3.3 apg
G Roy Devyn Marble (6-6, 194, Jr.): 13.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
F Aaron White (6-8, 219, So.): 12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg
F Zach McCabe (6-7, 235, Jr.): 6 ppg, 4 rpg
C Adam Woodbury (7-1, 235, Fr.): 5.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg

The Hawkeyes have a pretty young starting lineup, and with all five of these guys returning next season, the future looks good.  Adam Woodbury was a consensus Top 100 player, and some services had him ranked amongst the top 50 players in the country.  Mike Gesell was also a consensus Top 100 guy.

Roy Devyn Marble (43.8%), Mike Gesell (38.1%) and Zach McCabe (44.4%) are all very capable outside shooters, and they obviously have good size on the inside with Adam Woodbury.  There is also some quality depth off the bench…

F Melsahn Basabe (6-7, 221, Jr.): 19.3 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg.  Basable does all his work on the inside.  He has not attempted a three-pointer this season.

G Eric May (6-5, 219, Sr.): 20.3 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg.  A big guard, May has only attempted two three-pointers this year, making none of them.  However, he is the most experienced player on the team and has a high basketball IQ.

G Josh Oglesby (6-5, 202, So.): 14.2 mpg, 4.8 mpg, 1.3 rpg.  Oglesby has attempted 32 shots this season, and 28 have come from beyond the three-point line.

G Anthony Clemmons (6-1, 192, Fr.): 13.3 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 1.8 apg.  Clemmons hasn’t developed into a scoring threat at this point in his career, but he’s getting solid minutes for a freshman.

Virginia Tech has shot the lights out from three-point range this season…

Erick Green: 8-of-21 (38.1%)
Jarell Eddie: 16-of-27 (59.3%)
Robert Brown: 10-of-25 (40%)
Will Johnston: 8-of-13 (61.5%)

Marshall Wood is also capable of knocking down the outside jumper, though he’s only shooting at a 20% clip thus far.

Iowa is going to present a much greater challenge for the Hokies on the perimeter.  Scroll back up and look at the height of the Hawkeye guards and wings.  There are a lot of 6-5, 6-6, and 6-7 guys in there.  They will be more athletic than the UNC-Greensboros and VMIs of the world, and they will do a much better job of challenging shots.  For the season, Iowa’s opponents are shooting just 34.7% from the field and 25.4% from three-point range.

By the Numbers….

Let’s compare the offensive and defensive efficiency ratings for both teams.  Let’s start off with the offensive ratings…

Iowa: #126
Virginia Tech: #21

Virginia Tech has scored over 80 points in four of their five games, and because of their high shooting percentage, they have a very high offensive efficiency rating.  In fact, the Hokies rank #6 in the country in points per game through their first five contests.  They also rank highly in other offensive categories…

Free throws: #59
Three pointers: #10
Effective FG%: #21
Shooting Efficiency: #18
3Pt. Made per game: #12
FT Made per game: #10

Though it’s come against sub-par competition, the Hokies have been an offensive juggernaut so far.

The defensive ratings are another story…

Iowa: #17
Virginia Tech: #119

The Hawkeyes have been a much more efficient team on the defensive end than Virginia Tech.  The Hokies have struggled to stop the ball, and their inside rotation has been slow.  To beat Iowa on Tuesday night, Tech will have to play better defensively, and they’ll also have to improve on the glass.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:15pm on Tuesday, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.

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