Note: though the game isn’t televised, you can watch a live stream online. Click here for the link.
Virginia Tech will face the Radford Highlanders in a rare road game against a Big South team. However, Radford isn’t just some random Big South team. They have been giant killers over the past several seasons.
March 19, 2014: 96-92 W at Oregon State
December 7, 2014: 68-66 W at Virginia Tech
November 14, 2015: 82-80 W at Georgetown
November 24, 2015: 86-74 W at Penn State
Obviously Radford won’t be backing down from the Hokies.
Mike Jones has done a tremendous job with the Radford program. He went 6-26 in his first year, and then improved to 13-19 in his second season. In 2013-14, his program took off. The Highlanders went 22-13 and made the quarterfinals of the CBI. They were 22-12 last season, and made the quarterfinals of the CBI yet again. They are 5-4 so far this season, with those two big wins against Georgetown and Penn State.
Here’s Radford’s expected starting lineup…
G Rashun Davis (5-11, 185, Sr.): 14.8 ppg, 5.6 apg
G Justin Cousin (6-0, 195, r-So.): 5.1 ppg
G Cameron Jones (6-4, 180, Sr.): 12.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg
F Kion Brown (6-7, 210, Sr.): 3.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg
C Brandon Holcomb (6-8, 215, r-Sr.): 3.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg
The Highlanders are also getting a lot of help from their bench…
F Ed Polite Jr. (6-5, 200, Fr.): 22.9 mpg, 9.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 29 offensive rebounds, 10 blocks
C Darius Bolstad (6-8, 240, Fr.): 5.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg
G YaYa Anderson (6-2, 195, Sr.): 4.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg
Polite in particular has given the Highlanders some great minutes off the bench. He leads the team in blocked shots, rebounds, and offensive rebounds.
Here’s how Radford looks in some of the national efficiency numbers…
Offensive efficiency: #200
Defensive efficiency: #187
Rebounding rate: #144
Turnovers per possession: #227
So the Highlanders are in the bottom half of offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency and turnovers, and they are barely in the top 150 in rebounding rate? Yet they won on the road against Georgetown and Penn State? Here are some other stats…
Effective FG%: #210
Opponent Effective FG%: #196
Made FT per game: #238
Again, that’s not very good.
One thing Radford has done well is offensive rebound. They rank #72 nationally in offensive rebound percentage. It will be imperative for the Hokies to keep them off the offensive glass and prevent second chance points.
Here’s how Tech currently ranks in some key categories…
Offensive efficiency: #79
Defensive efficiency: #80
Offensive Rebound %: #10
Rebounding Rate: #14
FT Made per Game: #1
FT Attempted per Game: #1
Turnovers per Possession: #251
Most of the numbers indicate that Virginia Tech is the better team, and that they should win this basketball game. The Hokies are more efficient on both ends of the floor, they rebound the ball much better, and they make more free throws per game than any other team in the country. That said, the Hokies have struggled with turnovers, and that is hurting their offensive efficiency. If the Highlanders win this game, then you can expect turnovers to be a big reason.
In some games, you can throw out the stats. This is probably one of them. Radford hasn’t been statistically good in many important areas this year, but they have still defeated Georgetown and Penn State on the road. This is a winnable game for both teams. Radford’s starting experience is a bit scary, when you compare it to Virginia Tech’s inexperience.
It isn’t every day that a Big South team gets to host an ACC team. You can bet that Radford will be fired up, and the 3200-seat Dedmon Center will be rocking and rolling. Virginia Tech has yet to win a road game during the Buzz Williams era, so a win tonight by any margin would be a good win.