TV: ACC Network
Virginia Tech will face one of their toughest challenges of the season when they play UVA in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon.
The Hoos are 14-5 overall, with a 5-1 mark in the ACC. They would be undefeated in conference play were it not for a lucky bounce on a Duke three-pointer in Cameron Indoor Stadium (go to the 1:30 mark of this video). This is a very well-coached team under Tony Bennett, and their packline defense is likely to give a struggling Virginia Tech offense a ton of trouble.
Here is what UVA has done since ACC play began:
at FSU: 62-50 W
vs. Wake: 74-51 W
at NC State: 76-45 W
at Duke: 69-65 L
vs. FSU: 78-66 W
vs. UNC: 76-61 W
Not only are the Hoos winning, they are blowing teams out. They play excellent defense (#3 in scoring defense in ACC games), and they are scoring more points this season (#3 in scoring offense in ACC games). Here’s a look at their starting lineup:
G London Perrantes (6-2, 189, Fr.): Perrantes only averages 4.5 points per game, but he’s third in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s done a very good job of running the point as a freshman, and he has picked up the packline defense quickly.
G Malcolm Brogdon (6-5, 217, r-So.): Brogdon is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 points per game. He has scored in double figures in all six ACC games. He’s a big guard, a solid three-point shooter (34.4%), and a great free throw shooter (90.2%).
G Joe Harris (6-6, 225, Sr.): Harris averages 11.6 points per game, and he is the best player on UVA’s team. He’s an excellent outside shooter (43.4%), and he’s been a terrific four-year starter for Tony Bennett.
F Akil Mitchell (6-8, 235, Sr.): Mitchell is averaging 9.3 rebounds in ACC games, and though he only averages 6.7 points per game, he could do more if he played in an offense with a faster pace. He has a lot of experience in Tony Bennett’s system.
C Mike Tobey (6-11, 253, So.): Tobey leads the team with 22 blocks. He averages 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 18.5 minutes per game. He was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in his one appearance against Tech last season.
UVA has two dangerous players off the bench. Justin Anderson (6-6, 227, So.) is one of the top athletes and best dunkers in the ACC. He probably licked his chops when he saw how many easy dunks the Hokies allowed against Wake Forest. Anthony Gill (6-8, 230, r-So.) averages 7.8 points per game, and he’s shooting 63.2% from the field. He is one of UVA’s top offensive threats, and like Tobey, he would score more at a faster pace.
UVA is a terrible matchup for Tech’s struggling offense, particularly if Ben Emelogu and Adam Smith continue to miss games. We saw what happened on Wednesday night with those two guys out. Will Johnston got in immediate foul trouble, which forced Jarell Eddie to play shooting guard and Marshall Wood to play small forward. Neither player is suited for those positions, and Devin Wilson (who had to play all 40 minutes) became the only ball handler on the court.
The Hokies are finished with the easiest and most advantageous portion of their ACC schedule, yet they only went 1-5 during that stretch. It looks like a long season ahead.