2004-05 Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech at Miami

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Virginia Tech (11-7, 4-3 ACC) vs. Miami (13-6,
4-4 ACC)

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005, 7:30 pm

TV:

none

Special Preview Items:

The Virginia Tech Hokies will look to get back to their
winning ways when they travel to Coral Gables for a crucial ACC matchup against
the Miami Hurricanes. Tech is coming off a 100-65 loss against the Duke Blue
Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium, while the Hurricanes fell 94-82 at Wake Forest
on Saturday.

This is a critical game for the Hokies if they want to
keep their
NIT hopes alive
. Beginning with the Duke game this past weekend, Tech is in
the middle of a very tough stretch. The Hokies (11-7, 4-3 ACC) will host #7 Wake
Forest (17-3, 5-2) this Saturday, then travel to Maryland (13-5, 4-3) and
Virginia (10-8, 1-7) before returning home to host #6 Duke (16-1, 6-1). In a
conference where every stretch is tough, this one will be the toughest for the
Hokies, and it is important that they pull out at least one victory.

Going into Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s action, the Hokies
are currently tied
for fourth in the conference
(scroll down on that link for the standings)
with Maryland at 4-3. There are six teams in the conference with three or four
wins, bunched between fourth place and ninth place. Win, and the Hokies will
stay in the upper tier of the conference for a couple more games; lose, and
they’ll start to move towards the lower tier.

Miami is led by their backcourt, the three-headed monster
of Guillermo Diaz, Robert Hite and Anthony Harris. This triumvirate is one of
the most underrated and dangerous backcourts in the nation, and they give every
team they play a lot of trouble. Diaz and Hite are outstanding scorers who can
not only shoot the basketball but get to the glass and make plays as well. Diaz
is 2nd in the ACC in scoring averaging 18.5 points per game, while Hite is 4th
in the ACC averaging 17.7 points per game. Harris averages 13.3 points per game
and ranks 4th in the ACC in assists with an average of 4.79 per game.

The Miami frontcourt will not kill you on the scoreboard,
but they are outstanding on the boards. Anthony King ranks 5th in the ACC in
rebounding with 8.3 per game, while William Frisby comes in 9th with 7.0 boards
per game. They are good players who can score when needed, but Miami’s
offensive production is centered around their guard play. Frisby averages 9.6
points per game while King knocks in 6.2.

Looking at the statistics chart below, we can see that the
Hokies and Hurricanes are nearly equal in almost every key category.

Key Stats

Stat

VT (ACC Rank)

Miami (ACC Rank)

Points Per Game

70.6 (10)

73.7 (8)

Points Against

67.7 (5)

69.2 (7)

FG%

43.8% (11)

44.2% (9)

3-pt. FG%

34.4% (7)

35.6% (6)

FT%

65% (10)

66.4% (9)

Rebounds

32.5 (11)

40.6 (4)

Rebounding Margin

-5 (11)

+5.9 (3)

Steals

10.67 (2)

7.37 (10)

Turnover Margin

+6.83 (1)

+0.84 (8)

As you can see, Miami is a little better offensively than
the Hokies, while Tech gets the better end of the matchup at the defensive end
of the court. The trio of Diaz, Hite and Harris will be tough for the Hokies,
but Seth Greenberg can counter with a great defender in Jamon Gordon. If Gordon
can shut down whichever player he is assigned, then the Hokies have an excellent
chance to come out of Coral Gables with a win.

While both teams are dead even in most statistics, each
team holds a distinct advantage in one area apiece. Miami is a dominating
rebounding team, while the Hokies take Miami to the woodshed in turnover margin
and steals. The undersized Hokies, as we all know by know, rank dead last in the
ACC in rebounding. Miami holds a tremendous advantage in this area as they rank
3rd in the conference at +5.9 rebounds per game. It will be extremely tough for
Tech to force the Hurricane guards to miss a lot of shots, and even if they are
successful they still must keep the Miami frontcourt off the glass.

On the other side of the fence, the Hokies hold a supreme
advantage in turnover margin and steals. The Hokies rank 2nd in the ACC in
steals and 1st in turnover margin. Meanwhile, Miami ranks 10 in steals and 8th
in turnover margin. Pressuring the Miami defense and not allowing the ‘Canes
to run their offense could be another key.

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