Date, Time and TV: Sunday, March 1, 6pm, The ACC Network
Virginia Tech (15-13, 6-11) will face a difficult road challenge on Sunday night in the form of No. 10/11 Louisville (23-6, 14-4). The Cardinals are playing for the top seed in the ACC Tournament, and as usual are looking to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve been in a tough stretch recently, and they’ll be looking to get back into good form on Sunday against the Hokies.
Heading into their game with Georgia Tech on February 12, Louisville was 21-3. However, since that game they’ve gone just 2-3. Here are their most recent results…
64-58 L at Georgia Tech
77-62 L at Clemson
90-66 W vs. Syracuse
72-55 W vs. UNC
82-67 L at Florida State
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The road loss to Florida State was understandable, as the Seminoles could end up as the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament. The losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson were a bit inexplicable, even if they were played on the road. Overall, they are 0-3 in their last three road games. Unfortunately for the Hokies, this game is at Louisville, where the Cardinals have lost just once all season (again to Florida State…perhaps that’s just a matchup issue).
Despite the recent slide, Louisville has been a very good team this year. They are very good on the offensive end, and they are also competent defensively. The Cardinals rank No. 11 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency, and No. 36 in adjusted defensive efficiency. They are also No. 17 in three-point percentage and No. 20 in defensive effective field goal percentage. Right now they are projected as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament (out of an average of 94 brackets), and that could climb to a No. 2 or drop to a No. 4 depending on the rest of the season.
The excellent Chris Mack is the head coach of Louisville, where he arrived from Xavier before the 2018-19 season. He led the Musketeers to eight NCAA Tournaments in nine years, including an Elite Eight and three Sweet 16s. He has one of the most experienced teams in the country at his disposal, as the Cardinals rank No. 32 nationally in experience out of 353 teams. A deeper dive into the metrics shows that the Cardinals rank No. 1 of all Power 5 programs in experience. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech ranks next-to-last in experience among Power 5 programs, ahead of only Utah.
Here are Louisville’s projected starters…
G Fresh Kimble (6-0, 185, r-Sr.): 5.1 points per game. Kimble has started 15 games this year, and the St. Joe’s grad transfer leads the team with 78 assists.
G David Johnson (6-5, 210, Fr.): 6.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg. Johnson has only started three games this year, though Louisville lists him as a probable starter for Sunday.
F Dwayne Sutton (6-5, 220, r-Sr.): 9.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg. Pound for pound and inch for inch, Sutton is one of the best rebounders in the country. He is a transfer from UNC Asheville.
F Jordan Nwora (6-8, 225, Jr.): 17.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg. Nwora is Louisville’s leading scorer, and he’s a very tough matchup for the Hokies.
C Steven Enoch (6-10, 255, r-Sr.): 9.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg. Enoch can be a threat out to the three-point line, shooting 32% from the outside. He is a transfer from UConn.
The Cardlinals start three redshirt seniors, and though they only have one player who averages double figures, they are a very balanced team that plays nine guys as part of the rotation. They even have the luxury of at times bringing redshirt senior Ryan McMahon (6-0, 185) off the bench, and he has been difficult for the Hokies to handle at various points through the years.
Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm, and the game will be televised by The ACC Network.