No. 7 Virginia Tech heads down to Durham on Friday night to face Duke. The Hokies lost to No. 16 Pitt last Friday to fall to 1-1 in the ACC after taking down No. 8 NC State in their conference opener.
Duke presents a less formidable challenge for VT than its last two matches, but a win is needed to keep Tech in contention for the ACC dual meet title.
The Blue Devils are the third of five-straight ACC duals to finish the season. North Carolina and Virginia follow over the next two weekends.
There won’t be any featured matches against Duke, but there are a few areas that will be key for Virginia Tech on Friday night and throughout the rest of the regular season.
Winning more overtime matches:
The Hokies have lost their last six matches that have gone to overtime. Last week, No. 7 Sam Latona (133) fell to No. 6 Micky Phillippi in the tiebreaker round and No. 23 Hunter Catka (HWT) lost his second-straight overtime match against No. 5 Dayton Pitzer.
One area that the Hokies have particularly struggled in during OT matches is preventing opponents from capitalizing when a VT wrestler takes a shot.
Making sure that every shot is effective and that weaker shots don’t turn into points for the opposing wrestler will be key for Tech against Duke and the rest of the ACC schedule.
Virginia Tech is used to earning wins by fall, not falling victim to them.
Against Pitt, Cooper Flynn got put on his back only 44 seconds into his bout by Colton Camacho. No. 8 Hunter Bolen suffered the same fate against No. 18 Reece Heller, only the second time in the Christiansburg native’s career that he’s been taken down via fall.
Those two pins made the difference for Pitt against Tech. While Duke might not pose a threat in that aspect, it will be crucial for the Hokies to keep their backs off the mat down the stretch.
Taking effective shots:
Head coach Tony Robie has said time and time again that he believes going out and starting to score points is the best way to win in the NCAA tournament.
The Hokies will need to take calculated shots to make sure they’re the ones scoring on those shots. That means taking advantage of quality looks and finishing strong to earn points, which will in turn lead to more bonus-point wins.
Prediction: No. 7 Virginia Tech 48, Duke 0
*All matchups are based on Wrestlestat’s projected matches*
125: Eddie Ventreca/Cooper Flynn (VT) dec. Logan Agin (DUKE)
133: No. 7 Sam Latona (VT) win by fall Drake Doolittle (DUKE)
141: No. 12 Tom Crook (VT) tech fall Jarred Papscy (DUKE)
149: No. 8 Caleb Henson (VT) win by fall Patrick Rowland (DUKE)
157: No. 5 Bryce Andonian (VT) win by fall Preston Decker (DUKE)
165: No. 26 Connor Brady (VT) maj dec. Gabe Dinette (DUKE)
174: No. 3 Mekhi Lewis (VT) tech fall Conor Becker (DUKE)
184: No. 8 Hunter Bolen (VT) tech fall Luke Chakonis (DUKE)
197: No. 22 Andy Smith (VT) tech fall Brayden Ray (DUKE)
285: No, 23 Hunter Catka (VT) dec. No. 22 Jonah Neisenbaum (DUKE)
Virginia Tech only has one match that is viewed as a toss up: Catka and Neisenbaum. I think Catka gets back on track following two losses to move to 3-1 all-time against the Duke heavyweight.
Outside of that bout, Tech is largely favored in every other match. Given the uncertainty at 125, there could be some cause for concern there, but whoever starts for the Hokies shouldn’t struggle much against Duke’s Agin.
Friday night’s match in Durham is one that VT should win handily. If things go as expected for Virginia Tech, the team should have an easy time moving to 2-1 in the ACC.
3 Responses You are logged in as Test
I went to Duke at NC State last week. Duke is really bad. The Hokies should win every match.
Let’s hope our Hokies prepare better than they did last week.
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