Virginia Tech Travels to Pitt for Big ACC Game

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Time: 6:30pm
TV: ESPNU

Virginia Tech takes on Pittsburgh on the road on Sunday night at 6:30pm. The Panthers are 16-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, but they’ve lost three of their last five games and they aren’t playing very good basketball at this point in the season. They’ll look to turn that around against Virginia Tech, a team that beat them in Cassell Coliseum a year ago.

Since Pitt joined the ACC, these teams have met twice, with both games going to overtime…

Feb. 8, 2014: Pitt 62, VT 57, 2OT
Jan. 27, 2015: VT 70, Pitt 67, OT

Here’s a look at some of the numbers for both teams.

Offensive Efficiency: #9
Defensive Efficiency: #101
Offensive Rebounding Rate: #21
Total Rebounding Rate: #21
Turnovers per Possession: #90
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: #278

The Panthers have been good offensively and on the boards, but not particularly good on the defensive end. They also don’t force very many turnovers, which is good for the Hokies.
Here’s how Tech compares…

Offensive Efficiency: #122
Defensive Efficiency: #131
Offensive Rebounding Rate: #121
Total Rebounding Rate: #166
Turnovers per Possession: #126
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: #100

Of course, all those number include the non-conference portion of the schedule. A quick glance at the efficiency numbers (using RealGM.com) show that these teams have been pretty even since conference play began.  I’ll list each team’s ranking in the ACC…

Offensive Rating: Pitt #7, VT #11
Defensive Rating: VT #6, Pitt #8
eDiff (difference between O and D rating): Pitt #9, VT #11

Those numbers indicate that this will be an even matchup.

Pitt lost just one game in the non-conference portion of their schedule – 72-59 to Purdue back on December 1. They started 3-0 in the ACC, but have struggled a bit since.

at Louisville: 59-41 L
vs. BC: 84-61 W
vs. NC State: 78-61 L
at FSU: 74-72 W
at Clemson: 73-60 L

While they got a nice win at Florida State, the Panthers haven’t performed particularly well on the whole over their last five games, and their offense has struggled over the last three contests.

That being said, Pitt is a very experienced basketball team that is capable of turning it on in a heartbeat. Here’s their starting lineup…

G James Robinson (6-3, 198, Sr.): 10 ppg, 5 apg
G Sterling Smith (6-4, 190, r-Sr.): 6.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 47.8% 3-Pt.
F Jamel Artis (6-7, 215, Jr.): 15.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Michael Young (6-9, 235, Jr.): 17.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg
F Rafael Maia (6-9, 245, r-Sr.): 2.6 ppg, 4.4 ppg

For the second straight game, the Hokies will face a team with a number of graduate transfers.

Rafael Maia: Brown
Sterling Smith: Coppin State
Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (6-9, 235): Richmond

Sheldon Jeter (6-8, 225, r-Jr.) is averaging 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and is a transfer from Vanderbilt. Though not a graduate transfer, he’s still a very expereinced player.

Pitt is bigger than the Hokies, and they shoot it well. The Panthers are shooting 38% from three-point range this season, and 77.1% from the charity stripe. Michael Young isn’t your typical big man, as he shoots 82% from the free throw line. The Hokies need to focus on denying him the basketball, because once he gets it into the paint it usually results in points.

The Panthers haven’t played very good defense in ACC play. They allowed 84 points to Georgia Tech, 82 to Notre Dame, 78 to NC State, 72 to Florida State and 73 to Clemson. The Hokies have had their own defensive struggles, so I would expect a fairly high-scoring game on Sunday night.

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