Cancun Challege: Virginia Tech Hokies vs Northern Iowa Prediction


Nov 19, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams (right) and assistant coach Isaac Chew give instructions during the game against the Liberty Flames at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies play their first of two games in Cancun tonight against the Northern Iowa Panthers in the semifinals of the 2014 Cancun Challenge. The Hokies suffered a disappointing loss against Appalachian State this past Saturday and will look to bounce back against a Northern Iowa team that is a contender to make the NCAA Tournament and received recognition from many AP top 25 voters including Seth Davis.

The Panthers received 17 points in the poll and are ranked 31st in the AP Top 25 this week with the chance to get into the top 25 if they can win the Cancun Challenge. However, Buzz Williams and the Hokies will look to pull off a big upset victory but it will not be very easy for the Hokies.

Northern Iowa is led by senior forward Seth Tuttle who is currently averaging 17.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Joey Van Zegeren will likely be matched up on Tuttle a lot along with Justin Bibbs if the Panthers don’t put Tuttle at center. Van Zegeren will have a solid game overall against Tuttle but Northern Iowa’s senior forward will do a lot of damage and end up around 15 to 17 points in this game.

Virginia Tech will need to force turnovers but Northern Iowa has some experience to make sure that turnovers are limited. The Hokies will force 12 to 15 turnovers in this game but one thing that will be key is that the Hokies limit their tunrovers. The Hokies will do a lot of damage with fast break points due to the youth and athleticism they have in the backcourt.

More from Virginia Tech Men's Basketball

Northern Iowa is averaging just over 39% from beyond the arc while the Hokies are shooting over 36% from beyond the arc. Expect both of these teams to take some threes. The Hokies will need to make their free throws in this game to make sure they don’t throw away opportunities for points.

Northern Iowa is the better team on paper but Virginia Tech will come out and challenge the Panthers. Players like Justin Bibbs and Adam Smith will do some damage but Seth Tuttle and the Panthers will take down the Hokies 70-63.