Jan 3, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Malik Muller (1) defends Syracuse Orange guard Ron Patterson (4) in the second half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Season for the Hokies has been a roller coaster ride worthy of any amusement park. Buzz William’s team has played tough all year,however they are not getting the results fans have wished for. The Hokies have lost 8 out of their last 9 games. One of those 8 losses was to the team they play next, the Syracuse Orangemen.
In the first meeting, between these two former Big East foes, was an extremely close battle. However, the Hokies were unable to seal the deal, losing 68-66. It was the first ACC game for the Hokies, and it was a game the Hokies should have won. This was the first game fans really got to see the team Buzz Williams hopes he can create.
Both teams are different than the last time they met in Blacksburg. The Orange are struggling at the moment, losing 3 out of their last 4. The Hokies are playing with a lot of confidence, and are primed to get the win on the road. However, the Hokies will need to rebound the ball better, which has been their Achilles heel all season long. Once again the Hokies are going to be undersized. This size factor will make it tough to keep Syracuse forward Tyler Roberson off the glass.
The Hokies will need to play a smart ball game. Also, they will need big games out of Adam Smith and Justin Bibbs. Bibbs is only one game back from his concussion, so it will interesting to see how he back to normal he is. Also, it will be interesting to see if Williams will take the minute restriction off of Bibbs. Adam Smith has been Mr. Clutch in the past few games, hitting big shots down the stretch. It will be important for Smith to get off to a good start to take some of the pressure off of Bibbs.
Jan 31, 2015; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies forward Christian Beyer (22) shoots the ball over Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Aaron Rountree III (33) during the second half at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Wake defeated Virginia Tech 73-70. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The Hokies will also need two reserve players to continue their excellent play. Christian Beyer, and Malik Muller have stepped up in a major way. Beyer has been a real diamond in the rough for the Hokies. He has stepped into a prominent role in the rotation and has done all the little things that help a team win. Muller has shaken off previous bad games and showed great offensive talent in the last two games. Muller will need to keep attacking the rim in order to open the offense up for the Hokies. Both will be leaned on heavily since the Hokies are once again short-handed with Will Johnson having surgery earlier this week.
Syracuse will look to get out to a big lead like they did in the previous matchup. The Hokies will have to play stellar defense in order to stop Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas. Both had big games in Blacksburg, and will be looked to repeat their performances. Christmas also had a big game on the boards against the smaller Hokies. Christmas will also look to take advantage of the undersized Hokies to clean up on the glass.
One things for sure the Hokies can’t let the lead get out of hand like it did last time. I believe the Hokies are a different team, so that won’t be a problem. The important thing is for the Hokies to continue to improve. If the Hokies can stay out of foul trouble and get scoring from someone other than Justin Bibbs and Adam Smith a win on the road is not completely out of the question. I look for it to be a close game, but the home crowd along with the undermanned Hokies will be enought to put the Orangemen over the top 70-65.