2004-05 Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech at NC State

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Men’s Basketball Preview: VT at NC State

by Stefan Adams, TechSideline.com,

Virginia Tech (14-10, 7-6 ACC) vs. NC State
(15-11, 5-8 ACC)

Saturday, February 26th 2005, 4:00 pm


Raycom/Jefferson Pilot (click here for station

Special Preview Items:

The Hokies have finally reached crunch time (for
real this time). With three games remaining on the schedule before the Atlantic
Coast Conference tournament, and Tech currently standing as an NCAA Tournament
bubble team in the eyes of many, the final games are all “must-wins”
in order for Tech to be invited to the party of madness come middle March.

The Hokies’ final stretch begins in Raleigh
against North Carolina State University on Saturday. Virginia Tech is coming off
of two consecutive wins (No. 7 Duke and Miami) while the Wolfpack lost to No. 2
North Carolina at home on Tuesday by a score of 81-71.

On January 19, the two teams met in Blacksburg,
where the Hokies were able to overcome a late double-digit deficit to edge the
‘Pack 72-71. Tech’s Jamon Gordon skied to block last year’s ACC player of the
year Julius Hodge’s last-second attempt to win it. In that game, State was
missing former Georgetown point guard Tony Bethel, who will be on the floor this
time around.

Hodge comes into Saturday’s game leading the
Wolfpack in points (17.9), assists (110), rebounds (7.1), minutes played (33.7),
field goal percentage (49.8…yes, that’s 50%) and is second on the team in
steals (39). He is their only player that is averaging double-digit scoring
figures (the Hokies have four), so as usual, he will be the focus of State’s

While his numbers are down from last year, the
6’7 forward/guard has been a marked man all season long and will likely draw the
tandem of Gordon and Carlos Dixon. Considering the level of Tech’s defense on
top offensive threats this season, expect Hodge to do a lot of penetrating to
draw Tech towards the basket, leaving the perimeter open for Ilian Evtimov and
Engin Atsur.

Standings (as of 2/25/05)
School ACC Overall
11-2 23-3
10-3 23-4
Duke 10-4 20-4
7-6 14-10
Maryland 7-7 16-9
Miami 7-7 16-9
6-7 15-9
5-8 15-11
Virginia 4-9 13-11
Clemson 3-10 13-13
3-10 11-16

In the January game, the Hokies forced six Hodge
turnovers (17 overall by NC State) and will need to do the same, if not more
this time around. The Wolfpack’s bench out-scored the Hokies’ bench 22-3 last
time (with Bethel back, Cameron Bennerman will come off the bench to provide
5-10 additional bench points). If Tech’s Jeff King can come in and provide the
type of minutes like he did in the last two games, it should ease the pressure
on Tech’s starters.

One other key for North Carolina State will be
the play of freshman Andrew Brackman. The wiry, 6’10 forward/center quickly
became a presence in the post for the Wolfpack. In the January game, he shot 4
of 6 from the field for 13 points and he grabbed 10 rebounds. ‘Pack coach Herb
Sendek has not started Brackman the last five games, so one would expect he
would come off the bench against the Hokies. If so, Tech must be vigilant of his
presence and box him out.

Speaking of boxing out, this game is a battle of
the little giants on the glass. Virginia Tech has jumped out of the cellar in
conference rebounding. The Hokies edge only the Wolfpack by .1 (33 to 32.9
rebounds per game). The edge will likely belong to Tech in this category, as the
Hokies have much improved their rebounding lately thanks to Coleman Collins (23
over the last two games, including a mammoth total of 18 boards against Duke).

It has been a tale of two teams for the Wolfpack
this year, as is the case for almost every team in the conference. If State
shows up in the RBC Center (a venue that holds nearly 20,000 people) on Saturday
ready to play, and they can knock down over 45-percent of its shots, topping the
‘Pack will be a mighty task for the Hokies.

Revenge is on the mind of Sendek and his team, as
the Wolfpack have gone 4-5 since their loss to Tech. It is almost certain they
would like to play the role of spoiler for the Hokies, something Tech must keep
in mind.

Here is how the two teams stack up against each
other statistically.

Key Stats: Virginia Tech
@ NC State, 2/26/05

Stat VT
(ACC Rank)
State (ACC Rank)
Per Game
69.8 (10) 74.4 (6)
68.3 (5) 67.2 (3)
FG% 43.8 (10) 45.8 (5)
35 (6) 36.3 (5)
FT% 65 (10) 70.7 (4)
Rebounds 33 (10) 32.9 (11)
-3.8 (11) -1.3 (10)
Steals 9.63 (3) 7.38
+5.08 (1) +2.54 (4)

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