Date: Tuesday, March 10
Time: Approximately 3:30pm, or 30 minutes after the 1pm game ends
TV: The ACC Network/ESPN2
14-seed Virginia Tech will take on 11-seed Wake Forest at approximately 3:30pm on Tuesday in the Greensboro Coliseum. Neither team is entering the game on a positive note.
The Hokies (10-21, 2-16) looked bad in back-to-back home losses to Boston College (66-59) and Miami (82-61). Tech trailed the Hurricanes 46-18 at halftime, and were losing to the Eagles by as much as 22 points in the second half before rallying to make the final score respectable. Overall, Tech has lost seven games in a row, and five of them have been by double digits.
Wake Forest (13-18, 5-13) has lost five of their last six games. That includes a 70-34 loss to UVA, a 94-51 defeat at the hands of Duke, and a79-61 loss to a Boston College team that was at a major talent disadvantage.
The Demon Deacons defeated the Hokies 73-70 in a very close game in Winston-Salem back on January 31. Something will have to give on Tuesday, as these two teams have combined to win exactly three games away from home this year (two by Wake, one by Tech).
Here is Wake’s projected starting lineup:
G Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-3, 205, Jr.): 14.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 126 assists. Miller-McIntyre is a very underappreciated player because he plays for a losing team. He leads his team in scoring and assists, and he’s second in rebounding. He’s not a jump shooter, and the key to stopping him is to prevent him from getting to the basket. The Hokies failed to do that in the first meeting, as Miller-McIntyre was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and scored 19 points.
G Mitchell Wilbekin (6-2, 165, Fr.): Wilbekin 7.5 points per game, and he’s a 39.5% three-point shooter. He burned the Hokies with clutch shots in the January 31 meeting while on his way to a 15-point outing.
F Aaron Rountree (6-8, 200, Jr.): Rountree only averages 14.1 minutes and 2.7 points per game, so he’s not a major threat.
F Dinos Mitoglou (6-10, 225, Fr.): Mitoglou 9.6 points and 4.5 rebounds. Despite his size, he’s a very good three-point shooter, going 49-of-129 (38%) on the season. He had 15 points in the first meeting between these teams, nailing three outside jumpers in the process.
C Devin Thomas (6-9, 255, Jr.): Thomas is an outstanding big man, averaging 11.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The Hokies focused on Thomas in the first meeting and held him to just nine points, but he countered by kicking the ball to open teammates and finished with five assists.
In general, Wake Forest will use nine different players, and they have a good mix of post players and perimeter players. This is a team who, like much of the ACC, will return nearly their entire core group of players for next season. For now however, the Demon Deacons are struggling. Part of that is because they play four freshmen, of course.
Here are the advanced stats:
Offensive efficiency: VT #183, Wake #241
Defensive efficiency: VT #294, Wake #208
Rebounding rate: VT #339, Wake #81
Turnovers per possession: VT #107, Wake #199
Opp. Turnovers per possession: VT #176, Wake #272
Tech’s offense is better than Wake’s, and the Hokies are also much better in the turnover game. The Demon Deacons hold a pretty solid advantage defensively. Where Wake has the big advantage (as usual, if you’re a Tech fan) is on the boards. VT has actually moved up three spots in rebounding rate over their last few games, but still rank only #339 out of 351 teams.
The Hokies held their own on the boards in the first meeting, losing just 36-32. If they can keep the rebounding totals close again, while having a good shooting night and coming up on the positive end in turnovers, they’ll have a chance to win and advance to the second round. However, if they play like they did in two straight meetings against Boston College and Miami, it will be an early exit.
Judging from how these teams played each other in the regular season, and how both teams have played down the stretch, neither outcome would be a surprise.