2010-11 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Virginia

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(home games)
  • Date: Saturday, February 19, 2011
  • Time: 1pm
  • TV: The ACC Network

Virginia Tech will try to keep their winning ways going and avenge an early
season loss to Virginia, when they hit the road to take on the Hoos in
Charlottesville. Both teams have gone in opposite directions since the first
matchup in Blacksburg, a 57-54 Virginia win.

Since that loss on December 5, the Hokies have gone 13-3, and two of those
losses have been by three points or less. Virginia Tech has developed into one
of the better teams in the ACC, after losing Dorenzo Hudson for the season and
replacing him in the starting lineup with Erick Green. That first meeting
between the Hokies and the Hoos was basically 5-on-4 with Hudson playing 31
minutes in that game.

Virginia has also lost Mike Scott since that meeting. Scott is their leading
scorer, rebounder, and overall best player. He had 21 points and 13 rebounds
against Virginia Tech back in December, and he has always been a tough matchup
for Jeff Allen.

For the season, Virginia is 12-13 with a 3-8 record in conference play. The
Hoos have struggled offensively, though they remain one of the best
fundamentally sound defenses in the country.

Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G Sammy Zeglinski 6-1 185 Jr. 6.6 2.9
G Jontel Evans 5-11 190 So. 5.8 2.6
G Mustapha Farrakhan 6-4 181 Sr. 13.1 2.8
G Joe Harris 6-6 202 Fr. 10.4 3.8
C Assane Sene 7-0 239 Jr. 4.0 5.4

Will Sherrill (6-9, 226, Sr.) was starting in the frontcourt, but fractured
his fibula earlier in the season. He returned and saw solid playing time, but he
has missed UVA’s last two games. With Sherrill out, the Hoos’ frontcourt depth
is very thin, and they have gone with a four-guard lineup as a result.

UVA will also play K.T. Harrell (6-4, 204, Fr.), Akil Mitchell (6-8, 221,
Fr.) and Will Regan (6-8, 222, Fr.). They have an eight man rotation right now,
though Regan only got two minutes of playing time against Duke. With freshmen
making up half of their playing rotation, along with one sophomore, the Hoos are
the youngest team in the ACC.

Virginia also lacks offensive firepower. They don’t have a major scorer on
this team. Mustapha Farrakhan is averaging 13.1 points per game, but only by
default. He’s a solid player who just doesn’t have the capability of carrying
the team. Joe Harris is a freshman who is easy to like.

Sammy Zeglinski and Jontel Evans form a very small backcourt that is limited
offensively, like the rest of the team. 30 of Zeglinski’s 41 field goals have
come from behind the three-point line. Evans is a 5-11 guard who is so
uncomfortable from the outside that he’s only attempted eight three-pointers
this year, and he’s really too short to rely on his inside game.

One thing UVA does do well is shoot the three-pointer. Zeglinski, Farrakhan,
Harrell and Harris have combined to go 145-of-370 (39.2%). The Hoos live and die
by the three-pointer. If they heat up from the outside, they are capable of
winning basketball games.

Another thing Virginia does really well is play defense. They do not give up
easy baskets, and opposing teams have to run their offense very effectively if
they want to come up with big scoring games against the Hoos. In their most
recent game, UVA held the Duke Blue Devils to just 56 points.

Virginia Tech has struggled offensively against Tony Bennett’s Pack Line
defense, which was developed by his father, Dick Bennett, at Washington State.
To read more about the Pack Line defense, click here.

The Hokies prefer to play at a faster pace, and the Hoos have been able to
successfully control the tempo against Tech in the last three meetings. The Pack
Line defense is not a great matchup for the Hokies, and they’ve only broken 70
points against it once (and that came in an overtime game).

Comparison, ACC Games Only
Category UVA VT
Stat Rank Stat Rank
FG% 40.3% 11 45.6% 1
FG% Def. 43.8% 6 42.3% 5
3Pt.% 39.1% 1 37% 2
3Pt.% Def. 33.9% 6 31.4% 2
FT% 62.3% 12 76.2% 1
Reb. Margin -5.1 11 +2.5 4
TO Margin +0.45 6 +1.36 5
Assist-TO 1.0 7 1.1 5
Scoring Offense 58.1 12 73.5 3
Scoring Defense 64 3 66.3 5

7.5 3.3

Statistically, give the Hokies a big edge in this game. However, I think the
Pack Line defense will neutralize some of those outstanding offensive numbers
Virginia Tech has been putting up, and this will turn into a low scoring game.
If either team scores 60 points, I think that team will probably win.

What do the numbers 42, 71, 49, 68, 56 and 41 mean to you? That’s the number
of points Virginia has scored in each of their last six games, an average of
54.5 points per game. In half of those games, they failed to reach 50 points.
This is a struggling basketball team right now, and to beat the Hokies, they
will probably have to get hot from three-point range.

This should be a close one, but you have to give Tech the advantage. Mike
Scott has been a terrible matchup for Jeff Allen in the last three meetings,
averaging 20.7 points and 11.3 rebounds. In those same three games, Allen has
averaged 9.7 points and just 6 rebounds.

However, this time Scott is out, and Allen is playing the best basketball of
his career right now, averaging 19.5 points and 12.8 rebounds over his last six
games. He has six consecutive games with a double-double, and he has had double
digit rebounds in his last eight games. The Pack Line defense will limit his
touches, but I still see him having a big day on the glass and helping the
Hokies to a solid road win.

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