Feb 15, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA;
Virginia Tech Hokies forward C.J. Barksdale (42) reacts against Miami Hurricanes in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies finally ended their 10-game losing streak with a big win over Miami on Saturday and now the Hokies seem to have a little momentum. It’s a good time for the Hokies to have some momentum as they face an extremely tough challenge tonight with the arch rival and 14th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers coming in to Cassell Coliseum. Virginia is one of the three elite teams in the ACC and the Hokies will have a serious challenge on their hands. Honestly, the Hokies don’t have a very good chance of winning but there definitely is a chance.
One of the keys for the Hokies will be to make a high percentage of their three-pointers as the Hokies wouldn’t have beat Miami if they wouldn’t have shot 40% from beyond the arc in that game. The Hokies got away with Jarell Eddie being a non-factor against Miami but Eddie will need to find some space and make some threes somehow against Virginia’s elite defense. Eddie will have to play well tonight and find opportunities to help his younger teammates out or this could be a bad game for the Hokies.
Feb 15, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies forward Joey van Zegeren (2) shoots against Miami Hurricanes forward James Kelly (35) in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Hokies are one of the best major shot-blocking teams and that will be important tonight against a Virginia team that loves to attack the basket with either Joe Harris and Justin Anderson coming from the outside in or Akil Mitchell and Mike Tobey in the post. Joey Van Zegeren has 5 blocks in the last two games and the redshirt sophomore will need to avoid foul trouble to help give Virginia Tech its best possible chance. Trevor Thompson has also been a force on the glass with the occassional block and tonight will be his chance to show how he is a big part of the future for the Hokies. Thompson has double-double potential but that will not be easy tonight against Virginia.
Virginia’s defense is one of the best in college basketball and Devin Wilson will have a major challenge against a defense that can force a ton of turnovers. Wilson only had 2 turnovers the first time these two teams met but Pittsburgh forced 7 turnovers from Wilson 10 days ago and Virginia will want to avoid an upset. The Hokies need Wilson to play well in this big game because otherwise, the Hokies could struggle even more against a very tough defense.
The one potential x-factor for the Hokies is C.J. Barksdale who had 12 points and 7 rebounds in his return against Miami to lead the Hokies to a big victory over the Hurricanes. Barksdale has proven an ability to stretch the floor and that makes him very dangerous tonight. The Hokies will have a tough challenge on their hands against Joe Harris and the Cavaliers. This is a tough pick for me to make but the Cavaliers will sweep the season series and beat the Hokies but it will be a lot closer than expected.
Prediction: 14 Virginia 54, Virginia Tech 49
Who do you think will win, will the Hokies pull off the upset or will the Wahoos beat the Hokies?