Date: February 8
Time: 9:oo p.m.
TV: RSN (Click here for affiliate listings)
Virginia Tech (16-6, 5-5) will face a big challenge on Wednesday night when they travel to South Florida to face a hot Miami (15-7, 5-5) team that is searching for its fourth win in five games. This is a big game for both teams in terms of NCAA Tournament resumes. The ‘Canes will be looking to hold serve at home, while the Hokies will be looking to get a big RPI boost by picking up their second ACC road win of the year.
Miami has won three of their last four games, including a 77-62 rout of North Carolina and an 84-79 victory over NC State in Raleigh. The Hurricanes are a very capable basketball team and they are very well-coached with Jim Larranaga at the helm.
Here are some statistical comparisons between the two teams…
Offensive efficiency: VT #39, Miami #80
Effective FG%: VT #20, Miami #103
Defensive efficiency: VT #162, Miami #35
Defensive Effective FG%: #162, Miami #36
Offensive Rebound Efficiency: VT #308, Miami #20
Defensive Rebound Efficiency: VT #179, Miami #45
Total Rebound %: VT #218, Miami #15
Turnovers per Possession: VT #64, Miami #251
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: VT #246, Miami #187
Extra Scoring Chances per Game: VT #253, Miami #81
These are two very different teams. The Hokies have been very good offensively this year, while the Hurricanes have been very limited on that end of the court. On the other hand, Tech has been poor defensively, while Miami has played very good defense. Tech is a horrible rebounding team, while Miami is excellent, particularly on the offensive glass. Meanwhile, Tech does a good job of protecting the basketball most nights, while the ‘Canes can be a turnover machine.
In short, both of these teams have some very nice strengths, but both teams have some definite weaknesses as well. Which team can do a better job of playing to its strengths while exploiting the other’s weaknesses will likely be the winner.
Here’s Miami’s starting lineup from their win over NC State, which they’ll presumably use against the Hokies tonight…
G Ja’Quan Newton (6-2, 187, Jr.): 15 ppg. Not a shooter…only 8-of-32 from 3-pt. range.
G Bruce Brown (6-5, 190, Fr.): 12.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg. 40.7% 3-pt. range, 36 steals.
F Davon Reed (6-6, 220, Sr.): 15.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 41.3% 3-pt. range.
F Kamari Murphy (6-8, 220, r-Sr.): 6.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg. 59.1% FT shooter, so he’s a foul target.
F Dewan Huell (6-11, 220, Fr.): 6.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Miami has an eight-man rotation, and there of their starters average 32.7 minutes or more in ACC play. In their victory over NC State, four of their five starters played at least 32 minutes. Those numbers aren’t very different from Virginia Tech’s rotation, so fatigue will not be an excuse for either team tonight.
Virginia Tech’s defense has been bad this year no matter whether they’ve been playing man or a matchup zone. They need to take advantage of Miami’s tendency to turn the basketball over. For the season, the Canes have 264 assists and 295 turnovers in 22 games. As a comparison, Virginia Tech has 337 assists and 268 turnovers in 22 games.
However, the Hokies’ numbers have come back down to earth in ACC play. In 10 ACC games, they have 134 assists and 125 turnovers. That’s still better than Miami in conference play (118 assists and 131 turnovers), but the difference isn’t anywhere near as large. The Hokies need to get back to playing good offensive basketball just as much as they need to get back to playing good defensive basketball.
Meanwhile, Miami will look to exploit their advantage on the offensive glass. The Hurricanes are #2 in the ACC in offensive rebound percentage, trailing only UNC. It was UNC that pulled down 19 offensive boards against the Hokies, including a 16-1 advantage in the first half. The Hokies will have to toughen up on the boards.
Here are Virginia Tech’s current RPI and SOS rankings according to RPIForecast.com.
Playing Miami (currently #55 in the RPI) will help the Hokies a bit in strength of schedule. A loss on the road would not hurt them very much in the RPI at all. However, a win on the road would give them a big boost in the RPI and it could be a potential top-50 win to put in front of the selection committee, depending on how Miami finishes the season. There are nine more guaranteed games this year, including one ACC Tournament game. The Hokies need to pick up a couple of more quality wins in that span.