Virginia Tech and Saint Joseph’s Meet in the Barclays Center

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Buzz Williams
Beating St. Joe’s would be a big win for Buzz Williams and the Hokies.

Time: 1pm, Tuesday, December 22
TV: ESPN3 (internet only)
Place: Barclays Center, Brookyln

Virginia Tech and Saint Joseph’s will meet for the first time since 2000 when the Hokies were finishing up their final season in the Atlantic 10. This is part of a two-game double-header between the ACC and the A10 in the Barclays Center. Boston College will also play Fordham there tomorrow.

Saint Joseph’s is coached by veteran Phil Martelli, who took over way back in 1995. He is 383-267, with six NCAA Tournament berths and six appearances in the NIT. The Hawks are off to an 8-2 start this season

Saint Joseph’s probable starting lineup looks like this…

G Shavar Newkirk (6-0, 175, So.): 7.4 ppg, 3.0 apg
G Aaron Brown (6-5, 223, Sr.): 10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg
F DeAndre’ Bembry (6-6, 210, Jr.): 15.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.5 apg
F Pierfrancesco Oliva (6-8, 207, Fr.): 4.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg
F Isaiah Miles (6-7, 216, Sr.): 15.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg

Saint Joseph’s has a very unique starting lineup. They don’t have a true center in their starting lineup, and it’s debatable whether they have a true power forward. They only play eight guys in their rotation, though all eight of them appear to have the green light to shoot three-pointers. All eight have taken at least 14 outside jumpers this season, though they are shooting just 29% as a team from the arc.

Let’s see how the Hokies and Hawks stack up in the advanced metrics. Here are the numbers for Saint Joseph’s…

Offensive Efficiency: #166
Defensive Efficiency: #90
Offensive Rebounding Rate: #267
Overall Rebounding Rate: #180
Turnovers per possession: #21
Opp. Turnovers per possession: #340

Let’s compare those numbers to Virginia Tech…

Offensive Efficiency: #57
Defensive Efficiency: #26
Offensive Rebounding Rate: #12
Overall Rebounding Rate: #19
Turnovers per possession: #186
Opp. Turnovers per possession: #107

Those numbers indicate that Virginia Tech is the better team. However, they don’t take strength of schedule into the equation. St. Joe’s only losses came to Florida (74-63) and Villanova (86-72). They defeated Temple in Philly, and that’s no easy accomplishment. Let’s see where both teams stack up in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. First, St. Joe’s…

Rank: #78
SOS: #126

Now, the Hokies…

Rank: #110
SOS: #346

According to Pomeroy’s ratings, only five teams have played an easier schedule than Virginia Tech: San Francisco, Washington State, Tennessee State, Houston and Fordham.

Let’s take it deeper and analyze the teams that both the Hokies and Hawks have played, based on their Pomeroy Rating. St. Joe’s is up first…

#226 Drexel (82-81 W)
#321 Niagara (73-62 W)
#169 Buffalo (89-67 W)
#24 Florida (74-63 L)
#91 Old Dominion (66-64 W)
#8 Villanova (86-72 L)
#123 Columbia (80-78 W)
#119 Princeton (62-50 W)
#112 Temple (66-65 W)
#177 Illinois State (79-65 W)

The Hawks have played two really good teams in Florida and Villanova, but lost to both of them. However, the main thing that makes their computer rankings so much better than Tech’s is that they have only played one team outside the top 300. Almost every team on their schedule is in the top 200. The average Pomeroy Rating of their opponent is #137.

Here’s how the Hokies compare…

#283 Alabama State (85-82 L)
#322 Jacksonville State (71-62 W)
#261 VMI (76-52 W)
#298 North Carolina A&T (90-60 W)
#20 Iowa State (99-77 L)
#98 UAB (82-77 W)
#51 Northwestern (81-79 L)
#335 Arkansas-Pine Bluff (80-45 W)
#199 Radford (74-65 W)
#280 Lamar (88-53 W)
#351 Grambling State (87-52 W)

Virginia Tech has defeated just two teams in the top 200, and one of those (Radford) is barely hanging on to their top 200 stature. Meanwhile, St. Joe’s has defeated six top 200 teams. They are the more battle-tested team. The average Pomeroy Rating of VT’s opponents is 227.1. Note that I used the Pomeroy Ratings rather than the RPI, simply because Tech’s RPI numbers are even worse.

Despite the bad computer numbers, Tech has taken a step forward this year. They are starting to blow out the teams that should be blown out (despite the Alabama State debacle to open the season). Their next step is to start winning some games against solid programs like Saint Joseph’s. They did that against UAB earlier this year, and let’s hope they can do it again.

If the Hokies do manage to knock off the Hawks, it will be Tech’s fifth straight win. That would be the longest winning streak of the Buzz Williams era.

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8 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. CC- what’s your prediction for this game? How does their unique line-up affect their play? Score?

    Thanks!

    1. I haven’t seen them play, so I can’t make a prediction. But it’s basically a pick’em game. Very even, I think.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. Given Phillie is closer to NYC, do you expect the home crowd to support St. Joe’s? Definitely supported St Johns when VT played them at MSG a few years ago…

        1. St. Johns has NYC’s support because its a NYC (Queens) school. St Joe’s will have a handful at Barclays, especially given 1pm start, and no home court advantage whatsoever. I’m tempted to drive up from Philly area tomorrow for game but it’s at a tough time being 1pm on a Tues.

  2. Really the only reason to ever reference the RPI is if you’re talking about someone’s NCAA/NIT resume, and only then because we know the committee uses it as part of their evaluation (for reasons passing understanding). Referencing KenPom ratings in these articles is a fantastic idea. Doesn’t he have schedule-adjusted efficiency ratings also?

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