Virginia Tech at Miami
Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2019
No. 11/12 Virginia Tech will look to improve to 17-3 overall and 6-2 in the ACC when they travel south to take on Miami (9-10, 1-6) in an ACC game on Wednesday night. The Hokies are coming off a dominant home win over Syracuse, while the Hurricanes have been struggling all season.
Miami started the season well enough, going 5-0 through their November 23 win over Fresno State. That’s when things started going south for Jim Larranaga’s group. An 83-81 loss to Seton Hall on November 25 was the start of a five game losing streak that included defeats at the hands of Rutgers, Yale and Penn. Overall, since they began 5-0, the Hurricanes are just 4-10. Their lone ACC win came against (you guessed it) Wake Forest.
Wins in general have been tough for Miami, but beating quality competition has been even more difficult. Here are the teams the Hurricanes have beaten this year and their ranking in the Ken Pomeroy Index…
No. 152 Lehigh
No. 258 Stephen F. Austin
No. 322 Bethune Cookman
No. 248 La Salle
No. 66 Fresno State
No. 273 Houston Baptist
No. 179 Florida Atlantic
No. 218 Campbell
No. 167 Wake Forest
Miami has just one win over a top 150 team all season, and that came against a solid but unspectacular Fresno State team. It’s also worth mentioning that they’ve had some tough losses, including a 5-point setback against NC State, a 5-point defeat at Florida State and a 9-point loss against North Carolina. Still, this isn’t a team that’s inspiring much confidence right now, and after they host the Hokies, their next game will be on Saturday at UVA.
Miami’s defense ranks No. 152 nationally in Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, but when you narrow the focus to just ACC games, it’s easy to see why the ‘Canes have been struggling. Here are their rankings out of 15 teams against ACC opposition…
Offensive Efficiency: No. 6
Defensive Efficiency: No. 15
Effective FG%: No. 6
Def. Effective FG%: No. 14
Turnover Rate: No. 6
Defensive TO Rate: No. 12
Offensive Rebound Rate: No. 12
Opp. Offensive Rebound Rate: No. 15
3-Pt.%: No. 7
Opp. 3-Pt.%: No. 13
2-Pt.%: No. 6
Opp. 2-Pt.%: No. 12
Miami has been good enough offensively, but they’ve been woeful on the defensive end, and they can’t keep the opposition off the offensive class. Their defensive struggles bode well for the Hokies.
Much has been made of Virginia Tech’s lack of depth, and the Hokies rank No. 320 in the country in minutes per game played by the bench. However, that shouldn’t be an issue against Miami, as the Hurricanes rank No. 340 nationally in minutes played by the bench.
Let’s take a closer look at Miami’s personnel, beginning with the starting lineup…
G Chris Lykes (5-7, 157, So.): 16.6 ppg, 3.5 apg. Lykes is the smallest player you’ll see on Virginia Tech’s schedule this season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play. He leads the team in scoring, and he had 15 points against the Hokies in Miami a year ago.
G Zach Johnson (6-2, 192, r-Sr.): 13.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg. Johnson is one of 14 active players with 1500 career points and 350 career assists. He also leads the team with 30 steals. He is a graduate transfer from Florida Gulf Coast.
G Anthony Mack (6-6, 214, r-Fr.): 3.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg. Mack may start, but he’s only averaging 16.9 minutes per game.
G Anthony Lawrence II (6-7, 207, Sr.): 12.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg. Lawrence is Miami’s most experienced ACC player, having played in 60 career league games.
C Ebuka Izundu (6-10, 232, Sr.): 11.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg. Izundu is a legit low-post threat for the Hurricanes. The Hokies have to deny him the ball so that Kerry Blackshear doesn’t get into foul trouble.
Miami only has two players who regularly come off the bench.
G DJ Vasiljevic (6-3, 184, Jr.): 11.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg. Vasiljevic averaged 15 points per game in two meetings with the Hokies last season.
F Sam Waardenburg (6-10, 216, r-So.): 4.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg. Waardenburg is a New Zealander who can sub for Izundu at center, or he can play power forward to create a bigger lineup.
Miami is almost exactly like Virginia Tech in terms of size. The only exception is that they have a backup center with legitimate size. However, the Hokies have been the better rebounding team this year in ACC play…
VT’s Off. Rebound Rate: No. 11
VT’s Opp. Off. Rebound Rate: No. 6
Believe it or not, Virginia Tech is in the top half of the ACC in preventing offensive rebounds.
Miami’s Off. Rebound Rate: No. 12
Miami’s Opp. Off. Rebound Rate: No. 15
Miami isn’t quite as good on the offensive glass as the Hokies, and they struggle to keep the opposition from getting offensive rebounds.
All signs on paper point to Virginia Tech leaving south Florida as winners on Wednesday night. If they do, they’ll have won two ACC road wins, with no ACC home losses.