No. 7 Virginia Tech Faces No. 1 UVA In Commonwealth Clash

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Justin Robinson Virginia Tech
Justin Robinson and Virginia Tech pulled off a big upset in Charlottesville last season. (Photo by Mike Ingalls)

Virginia Tech at Virginia
Time: 8pm
TV: Raycom Sports (Affiliate List)

Tonight’s Virginia-Virginia Tech men’s basketball game is the biggest in the history of the rivalry.  With both teams ranked firmly in the top 10 and shooting for high NCAA Tournament seeding, there is a lot on the line from a national perspective.

There is also a lot on the line from an ACC perspective.  Duke suffered a shocking 95-91 home loss to Syracuse on Monday night…the same Syracuse team who was blown out in the Carrier Dome 73-59 by Georgia Tech over the weekend.  That gave the Blue Devils their first ACC loss of the season, and it sets up tonight’s game to be a battle for the pole position in the ACC.

Virginia fans knew they were going to be great yet again this year, and Virginia Tech fans knew the Hokies had a chance to be very good, but probably neither fanbase expected this to be a battle of top 10 teams.

The Hoos and Hokies come into this game ranked No. 1 and No. 7 respectively in the Coaches Poll, and that’s exactly where Ken Pomeroy’s advanced metrics have each club pegged as well.  The teams are similar statistically in a number of ways.

The Drive for 25

Sponsored by the Drive for 25: The Hokie Club’s Drive for 25 is a campaign to increase membership in the Hokie Club to 25,000 members. No matter where you live, you can make an impact in the lives of Virginia Tech student-athletes! To learn more about the Drive for 25, click here.

Here’s a look at UVA’s offensive numbers…

Offensive Efficiency (Pomeroy): No. 6
Effective FG%: No. 33
Turnover Rate: No. 4
3-Pt.%: No. 12
2-Pt.%: No. 126
Off. Rebound %: No. 108

And here’s how the Hokies match up defensively…

Defensive Efficiency (Pomeroy): No. 19
Effective FG% Defense: No. 58
Opp. Turnover Rate: No. 9
Opp. 3-Pt.%: No. 93
Opp. 2-Pt.%: No. 44
Opp. Off. Rebound %: No. 82

What stands out is that UVA is one of the best teams in the country at protecting the basketball, while the Hokies are one of the best teams in the country at forcing turnovers.  Tonight’s game will not feature a lot of possessions for either team, which makes the turnover numbers even more important.

Everyone knows that UVA has been one of the best defensive teams in the country under coach Tony Bennett, and that’s no different this year.  The Hokies will have their hands full on that end of the court.

Defensive Efficiency (Pomeroy): No. 2
Effective FG% Defense: No. 2
Opp. Turnover Rate: No. 102
Opp. 3-Pt.%: No. 1
Opp. 2-Pt.%: No. 19
Opp. Off. Rebound %: No. 21

The Hoos don’t force a lot of turnovers, but they make it extremely difficult to get good shots, and they don’t allow very many offensive rebounds.  Tech’s offensive numbers are as follows…

Offensive Efficiency (Pomeroy): No. 8
Effective FG%: No. 4
Turnover Rate: No. 75
3-Pt.%: No. 5
2-Pt.%: No. 33
Off. Rebound %: No. 61

The Drive for 25Virginia Tech is a great shooting team, despite their performance last week against Georgia Tech, and they are better at offensive rebounding than most people give them credit for.  Their one blemish this season is that they are turning the ball over at a higher rate, which is something they can’t afford to do against UVA.

The Hokies didn’t exactly light the world on fire offensively in their win at UVA last year, scoring 61 points.  However, they did two things effectively: they knocked down a pretty high percentage of their three-pointers (11-of-29 for 37.9%), and they only had 10 turnovers.  Meanwhile, the Hoos were 11-of-38 (28.9%) from the outside, as they struggled to get the ball in the paint against Tech.  It didn’t matter that UVA only committed four turnovers, because their halfcourt offense struggled. Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy combined to go 9-of-35 (4-of-24 from three).

Virginia appears to be a better offensive basketball team than they were a year ago.  Under Tony Bennett, the Hoos are generally viewed as a system program, and that system sometimes means the average fan doesn’t appreciate the talent UVA is putting on the court.  However, forward De’Andre Hunter is a projected first round pick, and some mock drafts have point guard Ty Jerome sneaking into the late first round as well.  Both of those guys are better players than their numbers indicate, but the average fan doesn’t realize it because of UVA’s system.

With Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker thrown into the mix (I’ve seen him projected as high as No. 6 overall in the 2019 Draft), there will potentially be three first round picks on the court in tonight’s game.  The rivalry hasn’t seen that type of talent on the court at the same time since 1982-83, when Dell Curry played for the Hokies and the Hoos had Ralph Sampson.

Despite their status as potential first round picks, neither Jerome nor Hunter lead UVA in scoring. 

G Kyle Guy (6-2, 175, Jr.): 15.4 ppg, 45.6% 3-pt.%.  The former McDonald’s All-American is having another good year for Tony Bennett.

F De’Andre Hunter (6-7, 225, r-So.): 14.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 42.3% 3-Pt.%.  Hunter is UVA’s most physically gifted player.

G Ty Jerome (6-5, 195, Jr.): 14.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 51 assists.  Jerome has very good size for a point guard, particularly at the college level.

How Virginia Tech chooses to match up defensively with UVA will be interesting.  The Hokies have used different starting lineups this season.  Recently senior forward Ty Outlaw and sophomore guard Wabissa Bede have been flip-flopping in and out of the starting lineup.  Will Buzz Williams elect to start Outlaw for offense, or will he start Bede and use him to defend either Guy or Jerome?  We’ll find out.

Virginia Tech-UVA Notes

Virginia is currently an 8.5-point favorite in tonight’s game.

Justin Robinson has 529 career assists.  The Virginia Tech record of 547 is held by Bimbo Coles.

Tech is 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Tech is 14-1 to start the season for the first time since the 1982-83 season.

UVA is 3-0 vs. ranked opponents (Wisconsin, Maryland, Florida State).

UVA has a 66-15 record against teams from Virginia since 1999-00, including 22-12 against the Hokies.

The Cavaliers have started 15-0 for the first time since starting 19-0 in 2014-15.

UVA has been ranked in the AP poll for 26 straight weeks and has been ranked in the top 10 in each of the past 21 polls.


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5 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I think Bede gets the start. As much as I love Outlaw’s shooting ability, he continues to be a defensive liability. I’d bring him off the bench for a quick spark if we get in an offensive funk. Plus, Bede has shown the ability to hit the 3 consistently this season. He’s definitely my early vote getter for Most Improved. I’d like to see him mark Guy.

    Really hoping Med shows up for this game. He had some critical plays in the GT game that should give him confidence. He needs to ball out and play with a chip on his shoulder. I’d like to see him mark Jerome.

    I believe the game will be decided by JRob’s play. He’s been in a little bit of a slump so hoping he picks tonight to break out of it. He’s the engine that drives our team.

    I agree with the others that tonight is not make or break. We’re not a perfect team and we’re going to take our lumps this season. We just need to docs on getting better every opportunity so that we’re hitting our stride by the end of league play. Tech’s chemistry is really good and that’s a critical element for the postseason, so we need to work on executing and giving maximum effort on a consistent basis.

    Very interested to see how NAW bounces back after an uncharacteristically poor offensive performance against GT.

    Go Hokies!

    1. Robinson needs to not press as he has done the past few games. If he presses the TOs will ramp up and VT will be in a hole early. He needs to play calmly and under control. The first 5 minutes will tell us all we need to know.

  2. I’m not worried about the outcome of the game tonight. We won’t fall very far if we lose, it’s a long season, and we get them at our place. I just want a good game and my guess is that the first one to 60 wins

  3. Who knows how the season wills out and I suspect we have a few losses in the future because the ACC just seems absolutely rugged this year. (Duke basically won the NCAA championship on the first game by beating #2 Kentucky, but still got beat by good ole Syracuse) I am enjoying this steady as she goes season, all the micro records: first 3-0 start, first 15-1 start, highest ranking achieved … ever. None of that will matter by the end of the season (except to the next class that goes 4-0, 16-1 etc.) and frankly, it’s time to play one of the big boys. No Nolley or Clarke, we are who we are, it’s time, bring who you got and let’s mix it up.

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