2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: #25 Virginia Tech at #4 North Carolina

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#25 Virginia Tech (17-7, 7-3 ACC) at #4 North Carolina (22-3, 8-2)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 8:00

TV: Raycom/Lincoln Financial split (click
here for stations
)


Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech will sail into uncharted waters tonight when they play in North
Carolina’s Dean Dome for the first time in school history. The #25 Hokies,
15-point underdogs, will try to do the unthinkable — defeat #4 UNC for the
second time this season. That’s a tall task, and to do it Tech will have to do
the exact same thing they did back on January 13th — shoot well and take care
of the basketball.

Back on January 13th, the Hokies defeated then-#1 UNC by shooting 52.6% from
the field and 53.8% from three-point range. They were also +6 in the turnover
margin and jumped out to lead by as many as 23 points before holding on to win
94-88.

North Carolina newspaper reports have indicated that the loss in Blacksburg
hurt the Tar Heels’ pride. Carolina defensive stalwart Marcus Ginyard had
several interesting comments in the Winston-Salem Journal:

“The only thing we talked about in that game is just how they
outhustled us and they had more desire than us … That’s something that
should never be talked about with the North Carolina basketball team. North
Carolina should always outplay their opponents effort-wise. It was something
that was really disappointing to this team, but it was something we had to
learn from since then.”

When your lineup is as flush with talent as Carolina’s is, losses are going
to be few and far between.

UNC
Starting Lineup
Pos Name Ht Wt Year Pts Rebs

G

Ty Lawson

5-11
193
Fr.
10.2 2.5

G

Wayne Ellington

6-4
195
Fr.
12 2.6

F

Reyshawn Terry

6-8
232
Sr.
9.6 5.9

F

Brandan Wright

6-9
205
Fr.
15 6.5

C

Tyler Hansbrough

6-9
245
So.
18.4 7.8

For those keeping count, that’s four McDonald’s All-Americans in the starting
lineup. The only starter that wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American is senior wing
forward Reyshawn Terry, and he is skilled enough that he is a likely NBA Draft
Pick this summer.

With the exception of one loss to NC State, UNC has been rolling since they
were upset in Blacksburg. A major reason for that is the play of freshman point
guard Ty Lawson, who has increased his scoring average from 8.8 points to 10.2
points since UNC’s first meeting with Tech. He has become more aggressive and is
getting better each and every game. Lawson has 129 assists and 60 turnovers, a
great ratio for a freshman. Despite his height, Lawson can really get to the
glass. The Hokies need to stop him from penetrating, as they did Sean Singletary
on Saturday.

A
big key to Tech’s first win over UNC was denying the basketball to outstanding
inside players Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. The Hokies need to try and
do the same in their second meeting and force the Tar Heels’ freshmen guards to
make difficult decisions on the perimeter.

Senior forward Reyshawn Terry is a very talented player. His one knock is his
inconsistency. He looks like an All-American at times, and other times he just
disappears. Against Virginia Tech on January 13, he had just five points and
three rebounds in 16 minutes. Against NC State, he had two points, no rebounds
and five fouls. The Tar Heels lost both games.

But in UNC’s narrow 79-73 victory at Duke, Terry finished with 10 points and
10 rebounds, and he played great defense. He was the difference in that game,
and he can get the Tar Heels over the hump in close games, if he plays well. He
is a mismatch, with good inside moves and a nice three-point stroke (45.5% from
three-point range).

Perhaps UNC’s greatest strength is their depth off the bench. The Tar Heels
go 11 deep, and no player on the team averages more than 28.8 minutes per game.
This keeps them fresh, and it’s tough to play with them for a full 40 minutes.

Here is how the teams stack up against each other in ACC play.

North
Carolina vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Games Only)

Category
North
Carolina
Virginia
Tech
Stat ACC
Rank
Stat ACC
Rank
FG % 49.1% 1 47.8% 2
FG % Defense 40.5% 1 43.1% 3
3-Pt. % 34.7% 5 37.7% 2
3-Pt. % Defense 35.3% 8 31.1% 2
FT % 72.0% 7 72.1% 6
Rebounding Margin +9 1 -4 9
Turnover Margin +1.5 3 +2.1 2
Assist/TO Ratio 1.21 1 1.17 2
Scoring Offense 86 1 73.6 7
Scoring Defense 68.4 2 71.8 5

Average
3 4

Based on the stats, this is a more evenly matched game than many people would
think. Virginia Tech, long considered a below average shooting team, is #2 in
the ACC in field goal percentage and three-point percentage in ACC play. They’ve
even got their free throw shooting above 70% and in the top half of the ACC in
conference games. The Hokies are also an excellent field goal percentage
defensive team, especially from three-point range.

The Hokies still rank #2 in ACC games in turnover margin. The hidden stat
there is that the Hokies have won the turnover margin just once since beating
UNC, and that was against NC State, a 70-59 loss, so Tech hasn’t won the
turnover margin in a game they’ve won since they beat UNC, exactly one month
ago. They’ve been beating teams (or losing to them) straight up. Tech likely
won’t be able to beat the Tar Heels straight up on the road, so they need to get
back to their old ways of winning turnover margin.

UNC had a problem last season on the defensive side of the ball. The Tar
Heels weren’t as focused and locked in as they should have been. That has been
corrected this season, for the most part. UNC is first in the ACC in field goal
percentage defense, and second in scoring defense.

In UNC’s three losses this season, some of their impressive statistics have
been totally reversed. In three losses:

  • UNC has shot 42.9%, while opponents have shot 54.7%.
  • UNC is 26.9% from three-point range, and opponents are 54.8%.
  • UNC has 41 turnovers and just 40 assists.
  • UNC has allowed 86.3 points per game.
  • Tyler Hansbrough has an assist/TO ratio of 1 to 12.
  • Reyshawn Terry is averaging 3.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. He has
    attempted just one free throw in the three losses.

Pay attention to shooting percentages and turnovers. They will likely tell
the tale. The Hokies can be streaky with their shooting. In wins over UNC,
Miami, Georgia Tech and UVA, the Hokies shot at least 52.6% from the field. They
shot 56.5% against Florida State. They have also put up some stinkers, including
35% against NC State, 39.2% against Wake Forest and 39.7% against Maryland. It
seems like the Hokies are either hit or miss, pun intended, from a shooting
standpoint.

It’s important to get off to a fast start. The Hokies fell behind UNC 17-9 in
Blacksburg, but behind a home crowd, they were able to come back. Bad starts
doomed Tech in their three ACC losses to FSU, NC State and BC, so a good start
will be important if the Hokies want to hang with UNC on the road.

Bourbonstreet’s View

#33 RPI Virginia
Tech
@ #2 RPI North
Carolina:

Some of you have asked me off the TSL.com message boards: “…who’s
looking good for my Final-4 pool b-st.?”

What would you say regarding the chances of a team with the following
national rankings making its way down south to play in the ATL on the first
weekend in April?

  • Defensive rebounding=1st best
  • Rebounding margin=1st best
  • Offensive scoring=2nd best
  • Scoring margin=2nd best
  • Total assists=3rd best
  • Offensive FG%=5th best

Note that I did not even bother to list UNC’s additional five major
statistical categorical rankings of 31st or better outta 325 D-1 men’s hoops
teams. That’s how great this UNC basketball team is. In fact I’ll go ahead and
say it: this is the D-1 team to beat, and if this team does not get to at least
Atlanta it will be a shame. The Tar Heels have absolutely smoked people at home
all year, winning eleven times by 20 or more and eight times by 30 or more.
UNC’s average home margin of victory in ACC games is a totally implausible +25.6
points!

In these two teams’ last respective five games, UNC is only 2% ahead from the
floor, 0.2% ahead from the charity-stripe, and actually down 3.5% from 3-point
land. But over that same timeframe, UNC holds a +10 rebounding margin edge, and
a 20-point scoring margin edge. On top of that, UNC will have some regular
season payback on their minds, while the sizzling Tar Heel assist-to-turnover
ratio of 2.94 just does not fit the Greenberg visiting profile for winning. VT
may hold bragging rights as having been one of only three, possibly four, teams
to have beaten the 2006-2007 NC2A hoops champion when this year is all said and
done.

North Carolina 88, Virginia Tech 74

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