ACC-Big 10 Challenge: Virginia Tech Hokies at Penn State Nittany Lions Prediction


Nov 30, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams applauds his team during the game against the Morgan State Bears at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Virginia Tech Hokies will be looking to extend their winning streak to 3 but they face a tough challenge on the road against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Both of these teams know that this is a good chance to get a win over a major conference opponent early in the season.

The Hokies enter this game 4-2 while the Nittany Lions are 6-1 with a win over USC at a neutral site and their only loss being at a neutral site against Charlotte in double overtime. Both teams have a common opponent in Morgan State with Penn State beating them by 23 and the Hokies beating them by 20.

Penn State has somewhat of a similar roster to the Hokies back in the 2012-2013 season with Penn State having one focal scorer in senior guard D.J. Newbill. Newbill is averaging 25.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.4 steals in 38.7 minutes per game. The points output is very similar to Erick Green two years ago especially with Penn State not having a single player averaging 11 or more points per game other than Newbill.

Newbill seems to be a tough, scoring guard and the Hokies defensive attention should be on forcing other Penn State players to beat them. Keeping Newbill under 20 won’t be easy for the Hokies to do but if Newbill does score over 20, Virginia Tech still can get the win with Penn State not being a great option.

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Penn State is averaging 7 more rebounds per game than the Hokies though Penn State does not have a size advantage due to the fact that Penn State only has one player above 6-7 that is averaging 15+ minutes per game and 2 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game. However, Penn State seems to have a very tough team with its two leading rebounders being 6-7 and 6-6 in Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor.

I expect Joey Van Zegeren will play at least 30 minutes in this game and will stay out of foul trouble. Blowouts have prevented Van Zegeren from getting more minutes but this should be a close game and the junior will get a lot of playing time. Van Zegeren will win the battle in the post in his matchup but that doesn’t mean the Hokies will mean the rebounding battle.

The Hokies have been one of the most efficient offensive teams so far and that will continue against Penn State. Virginia Tech has a lot of momentum coming into this game and the Hokies will continue their strong run led by Van Zegeren and Adam Smith. It will be a close one but the Hokies will pull off the upset 73-68.