Jan 6, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Justin Bibbs (10) goes up for a shot past Florida State Seminoles forward Kiel Turpin (11) during the first half of the game at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies kick off a tough stretch of four games with a trip to the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky to take on Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals. Once again, the Cardinals look like a team that could win a national title, but could the Hokies pull off a big upset on the road?
As big of a longshot as that seems, there are a few reasons to believe that the Hokies could pull off the upset.
The first reason is the fact that Louisville will play Duke for the first and only scheduled time this season as an ACC member four days after their game with the Hokies. There will be a lot of hype ahead of this game especially since this will be a home game for the Cardinals.
Rick Pitino is a great head coach, but the heads of players are hard for any coach to control. There definitely is a risk that Louisville overlooks this game. If that does happen, the Hokies have a team that excels in certain areas to make themselves a very intriguing matchup.
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One thing that could give the Hokies the chance to pull upsets in some games that you wouldn’t expect is the fact that they are a great shooting team. Virginia Tech has a field goal percentage of 47.8% and a three-point shooting percentage of 40.4% which is quite impressive.
The teams that usually seem to pull off big upsets are teams with tons of quality shooters and that is what the Hokies are. Virginia Tech showed how dangerous their shooting can be in the first half against Florida State though the Seminoles had one of the best shooting halves that any team has had this season.
The Cardinals’ ball security is also not great, and the Hokies have a team that can get out in transition and score with great young players like Justin Bibbs and Ahmed Hill. This team has the speed and energy to quickly turn a turnover into an easy layup or dunk at the other end.
Jan 3, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Adam Smith (3) shoots against the Syracuse Orange in the second half at Cassell Coliseum. Syracuse defeated Virginia Tech 68-66. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
If Louisville continues to have some turnover struggles even against a Virginia Tech team that is not a great turnover forcer, the Hokies will have a better chance of pulling off an upset.
The Hokies also have two players in Justin Bibbs and Adam Smith who are both capable of going off for big games of 20+ points. Bibbs has had 4 games of 20 or more points and averaged 23.5 points in his first two ACC games. Meanwhile, Smith has had 3 games of 20 or more points this season.
Both players are shooting the ball extremely well with Bibbs making 50% of his shots and 47.5% of his three-point shots while Smith has made 44.6% of his shots and 44.2% of his three-point attempts. Both of these guys are dangerous shooters that have the talent to go off and put up a lot of points.
Lastly, Buzz Williams has plenty of experience coaching against Rick Pitino from his time at Marquette which will be valuable. Williams will know Pitino’s style quite well from his experience coaching against him which will be valuable with Louisville being the ACC newcomer.
Williams has never won at Louisville, and that is something that Williams will definitely be wanting to change in this game. This probably is his worst chance to do that on paper since becoming a head coach, but Williams will have his team motivated to pull off the upset.
The chances the Hokies actually take down Louisville are slim, but Virginia Tech definitely will have a shot against the Cardinals.
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