Date: Tuesday, January 13
TV: RSN (check local listings)
Virginia Tech kicks off a brutal stretch of games when they travel to Louisville to take on the #6 Cardinals on Tuesday night. Louisville is 14-2 on the season and looking to bounce back after a tough one-point loss to North Carolina.
Here’s how Tech’s next four games look: at #6 Louisville, at #15 UNC, vs. #12 Notre Dame, vs. #2 UVA
I doubt there is any other team in the country that faces as tough a schedule over the next couple of weeks. An 0-6 start to ACC play is not only probable, but very likely.
Here’s Louisville’s starting lineup…
G Chris Jones (5-10, 175, Sr.): 13.2 ppg, 52 assists. Jones is in his second year as Louisville’s starting point guard after transferring from the JUCO ranks.
G Terry Rozier (6-1, 190, So.): 17.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg. Rozier is playing at a very high level right now, including his work on the boards. He also has a team-high 38 steals in 16 games.
F Wayne Blackshear (6-5, 215, Sr.): 12.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg. Blackshear brings a tough, veteran presence to the Louisville lineup. He is a former McDonald’s All-American.
F Motrezl Harrell (6-8, 240, Jr.): 15.5 ppg, 9 rpg. The former Virginia Tech signee is a projected first round draft pick after this season. If you’d like to spend the rest of the day depressed, you can read this article by Mark Berman of the Roanoke Times, which includes quotes from Harrell and former Tech coach Seth Greenberg.
C Chinanu Onuaku (6-10, 230, Fr.): 4.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg. Despite playing less than 20 minutes per game, Onuaku still averages 5.5 boards per contest. He’s got a great future at Louisville.
Louisville doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well as a team. Here are their percentages on the season.
However, the Cardinals make up for it by playing terrific defense. They like to pressure the basketball, and the last time we saw a team do that to Tech, the Hokies lost 82-51 to West Virginia. Louisville will do many of the same things West Virginia did, except they will do them with better athletes. Here’s how their opponents are shooting the ball…
The Hokies will have to play smart and get good shots while not turning the basketball over. An uncharacteristic poor outside shooting night from Tech will mean a blowout loss. Here’s a quick comparison of some important efficiency numbers…
Offensive Efficiency: Louisville #69, VT #100
Defensive Efficiency: Louisville #2, VT #155
Rebounding Rate: Louisville #63, VT #279
In terms of offensive efficiency, the only thing that separates the two teams is Louisville’s ability to get to the line and make more free throws. The Cardinals are 268-of-407 (65.8%), while the Hokies are 184-of-301 (61.1%). Tech’s ability to shoot the basketball from the outside keeps them in games, but Buzz Williams wants more free throw trips, and obviously more free throw makes.
However, Louisville holds a huge advantage in defense and rebounding. The Hokies have little to no size on the inside, and at times they are slow with their outside rotations and can’t stop the ball. Even if Tech plays an outstanding offensive game, their deficiencies on defense and on the boards will likely be enough for Louisville to prevail.
For additional previews of this and tonight’s other ACC matchups (Clemson-Virginia, Wake-Syracuse, and Miami-Duke), visit InsideTheACC.com:
ACC Basketball Tuesday Night Preview — InsideTheACC.com