Jan 18, 2015; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams reacts in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Hokies 68-53 at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies have lost their first four ACC games, but they will to turn that around tonight. However, the Hokies have a very top challenge as they host the 8th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Fighting Irish have only lost 1 ACC game to Virginia, but have had a couple of close calls against Miami and Georgia Tech.
The Hokies are without leading scorer Justin Bibbs for the second straight game due to a concussion, and he will likely be missed tonight. Bibbs is averaging 13.6 points per game on the season and has averaged 20.7 points in his first three ACC games which is quite impressive.
Devin Wilson will have a very important matchup tonight as he will take on the ACC’s best point guard, Jerian Grant. Grant has shined this season with 16.7 points, 6.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 35.2 minutes per game which are extremely impressive numbers.
Wilson has also been fairly effective with 7.2 points, 4.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 29.3 minutes per game. Grant is a star and will have a big game tonight though Wilson will be fairly productive, and give his teammates opportunities to make shots.
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Shane Henry had a solid game against North Carolina with 10 points and 9 rebounds, but Henry will need to play well against Notre Dame big man Zach Auguste. Auguste is averaging 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, and while Auguste likely will win this matchup, Henry will play fairly well.
One guy to keep an eye on from Notre Dame is Pat Connaughton. Connaughton chose to stay in college instead of going pro for baseball and Connaughton has played quite well as the 6’5” guard is averaging 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 34.1 minutes per game. Connaughton is also shooting 43.6% from beyond the arc which is also quite impressive.
The Hokies will need to do an effective job of boxing out Connaughton in this game, and players like Ahmed Hill and Jalen Hudson will need to step up to the challenge. If the Hokies can contain Connaughton on the glass and beyond the arc, Virginia Tech will have a better chance.
Buzz Williams knows Mike Brey quite well from both of their times in the Big East, and Williams will make sure his team is ready. Adam Smith will put up a lot of points and the Hokies will definitely make this game interesting. However, Notre Dame will find a way to pull out the victory 78-72.
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