2004-05 Basketball Preview: VT vs. NC State

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Virginia Tech (8-6, 1-2 ACC) vs. NC State
(11-5, 1-2 ACC)

Wednesday, January 19th 2005, 7:00 pm

TV:

Regional SportsNet (Comcast SportsNet, Fox
SportsNet, Sunshine Network; check local listings)

Special Preview Items:

The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team looks to win
their 2nd consecutive ACC game and 3rd consecutive contest overall when they
play host to the NC State Wolfpack on Wednesday night. The Hokies have been
playing much better the last four games, leading more than a few VT fans to
wonder how this team lost to the likes of VMI. Tech dropped a close contest to
defending SEC Champion Mississippi State in New Orleans and led Florida State
late in the game in Tallahassee before falling. Since then the Hokies have
beaten Bethune Cookman and earned their first ever ACC victory over the Clemson
Tigers.

Senior wing forward Julius Hodge is NC State’s best
player. He is also one of the top players in the ACC. He considered leaving
after his junior season for the NBA Draft, but is one of the few players who
opted to stay in college. Hodge leads NC State in scoring (18.7 ppg), rebounding
(7.3 rpg), and assists (67). Without a doubt, he is the MVP of their team.
Besides Hodge, the Wolfpack have only one other player who averages double
figures in scoring per game, Cameron Bennerman with 10.7 ppg. Bennerman is their
3-point threat, shooting 43.5% from downtown on the season.

Overall, the statistics favor the Wolfpack in this game,
as we can see from the chart below.

Stats Comparison, VT and NC State
(through games of 1/18/05, per theacc.com)

Stat

VT (ACC Rank)

NCSU (ACC Rank)

Points Per Game

70.4 (11)

76.2 (6)

Points Against

64.7 (5)

64.2 (4)

FG%

43.7% (11)

45.6% (8)

3-pt FG%

32.4% (8)

34.2% (7)

FT%

65.2% (10)

70.3% (4)

Rebounds

32.5 rpg (11)

35.1 rpg (9)

Rebounding Margin

-4.8 (11)

-0.6 (10)

Steals

11.3 (1)

8.0 (8)

Turnover Margin

+7.9 (1)

+4.3 (2)

It is not difficult to see that the Hokies will probably
have to play above their heads to win this game. NC State shoots better and
rebounds better than the Hokies, so Tech is going to have to bring their A game.

There are a couple of statistics that can be considered
favorable for the Hokies. First of all, while Tech is behind NC State in
rebounding, the margin is not as large as the Hokies have been facing against
other teams they have played. The Hokies are last in the ACC in rebounding and
the Wolfpack are just ahead in 9th, so the Hokies have a chance to steal one in
the battle on the boards. Tech has looked much better in the rebounding column
as of late. The Hokies beat Florida State on the boards 29-26 and narrowly lost
to Clemson 32-30. So the fact that Tech isn’t facing a good rebounding team
coupled with the fact that the Hokies themselves have been rebounding the ball
better lately makes this a game within the game that will be interesting to
watch.

The Hokies also hold the advantage in turnover margin,
where Tech ranks #1 in the ACC. NC State is also impressive in this category,
ranking #2 in the ACC. It is possible that the Hokies could bring more pressure
than usual on the NC State offense. The Wolfpack employ a very structured
offensive system, and it would be advantageous if Tech could take them out of
their rhythm on the offensive end.

Until their most recent matchup against Georgia Tech, NC
State had been struggling as of late. The Wolfpack had lost 4 in a row and 5 out
of 7 overall until they knocked off the Yellow Jackets in Raleigh on Sunday.
Those losses included home losses to West Virginia and Miami, as well as a
blowout loss at St. John’s. So basically it seems that NC State is losing to
every current or former Big East team that they face this season. Here’s
hoping they continue their streak on Wednesday night.


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