Date: March 4
Time: 4:30 p.m.
TV: RSN (click here for affiliates list)
Virginia Tech (21-8, 10-7) will look to put the finishing touches on an outstanding regular season when the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (17-12, 8-9) come to town for a late afternoon meeting on Saturday. ESPN and most other commentators list Virginia Tech as a lock for the NCAA Tournament; now the Hokies are playing for seeding, and they are playing for their seniors on Senior Day. Meanwhile, Wake is coming off a big win over Louisville, and they could be one win away from locking up their own spot in the Big Dance. Needless to say, this is a big game for both teams.
Though Wake’s record isn’t particularly gaudy, their computer numbers are keeping them in the conversation. The Demon Deacons have an RPI of No. 39 with the No. 12 strength of schedule, according to RPIForecast.com. If they can get to 18 overall wins, they could certainly have the computer numbers to make a strong argument for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament.
If you remember anything about Wake Forest heading into tomorrow’s game, remember the name John Collins. Collins (6-foot-10, 235-pounds, So.) only started one game as a freshman last season, but his game has taken off as a sophomore. He’s averaging 19.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, which is impressive. However, his numbers have really improved since a game against Syracuse on January 24.
Syracuse: 23 points, 12 rebounds
Duke: 20 points, 8 rebounds
BC: 26 points, 16 rebounds
GT: 20 points, 11 rebounds
ND: 24 points, 14 rebounds
NC State: 23 points, 7 rebounds
Clemson: 29 points, 10 rebounds
Duke: 31 points, 15 rebounds
Pitt: 22 points, 13 rebounds
Louisville: 25 points, 11 rebounds
Average: 24.3 points, 11.7 rebounds
You won’t find a better player in America since January 24. He’s the exact wrong matchup for Virginia Tech, a team that lacks size and depth in the post. Every team that he’s dominated since January 24 has better size and depth in the post than the Hokies. He’s most likely going to have a huge game on Saturday. The key will be whether or not Tech can outplay the other four Wake Forest players on the court.
Fortunately for Virginia Tech, this game is played in Cassell Coliseum, where the Hokies are 15-1 this season. The Demon Deacons haven’t exactly been road warriors over the past several seasons. Here’s a look at their recent ACC road records…
2016-17: 2-6 (wins over Boston College and NC State)
2013-14: 1-8 (win at Virginia Tech)
2011-12: 1-7 (win a Boston College)
Three of those four wins came against a team that either finished last or was tied for last in the ACC. The only exception is this year’s NC State team, who would be last were it not for Boston College.
The main reason the Demon Deacons have been so bad on the road is their inability to play defense. For the season, Wake ranks 252nd nationally in defensive efficiency. The Hokies have been bad defensively, but they still rank 206th in defensive efficiency, nearly 50 spots better than Wake Forest. Nevertheless, led by Collins, the Deacs have a large number of very skilled players who can put the ball in the basket. From a talent perspective, the Hokies will have their hands full on Saturday.
Here’s what Virginia Tech’s projected numbers would look like with a win…
RPI: No. 31
SOS: No. 67
Here’s what the numbers could look like with a loss…
RPI: No. 46
SOS: No. 67
The Hokies are going to be in the NCAA Tournament either way, but they can certainly improve their computer numbers and their seeding as a result if they keep winning games. A victory on Saturday would also send seniors Seth Allen, Zach LeDay, Matt Galloway and Greg Donlon out the right way.
Finally, a victory over Wake Forest could improve Virginia Tech’s seeding in next week’s ACC Tournament. The Hokies are guaranteed a first round bye either way, but they could potentially move all the way up to the fifth seed if everything goes correctly this weekend. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by RSN. Click here for a TV affiliates listing. Fewer than 100 tickets remain for the game. To purchase tickets, click here.