Feb 14, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers center Landry Nnoko (35) goes for a loose ball during the first half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Littlejohn Coliseum. Tigers won 75-54. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Hokie fans as I write this there is snow on the ground, and the temperature outside is colder than the Hokies shooting as of late. Believe me that is definitely cold. The Hokies are coming off one of the worst games they have played all season long in their defeat at the hands of the Clemson Tigers. Virginia Tech will hopefully have a short memory about the poor performance on the road as they travel to South Beach for their first matchup with the Hurricanes of Miami.
The Hurricanes sport a record of 16 wins against 9 losses. The Hurricanes are 6-6 in conference, which is good enough for the first day bye in the upcoming ACC tournament. However, the “Canes” have lost 4 out of their last 6. The “Canes” did get a win in their last game, a double overtime thriller against Boston College. The game was postponed a day because of weather, which creates a quick turnaround for this talented Miami team.
The Hurricanes, before this most recent losing streak were a dangerous and ranked team. Miami even though they are not ranked at the moment are still dangerous. At this point every game is extremely important for Miami, as they are on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. Miami is led in scoring by Sheldon Mcclellan, averaging over 14 a game. The Hurricanes also have another player averaging double figures in Angel Rodriguez.
More from Virginia Tech Men's Basketball
- Virginia Tech’s Mike Young & coaches attend four-star recruit’s workout
- Virginia Tech men’s basketball lands three-star recruit Tyler Johnson
- Virginia Tech men’s basketball releases non-conference schedule
- Virginia Tech basketball recruiting: Hokies 2023 class is coming together
- Virginia Tech Basketball: 2022 NBA Draft Prospects
The Hurricanes play a similar style of line up to the Hokies, starting 4 guards and one big man. However, the Hurricanes do it to control the tempo of the game and get into their run and gun offense. The Hurricanes do however have a significant size advantage in their big man position. Tonye Jekiri stands 7 feet tall, which it taller than all the Hokies except for one. Jekiri leads the team on the glass at over 10 rebounds a game.
The Hokies usually are grossly undersized, which hurts them on the backboards. However, the Hokies make up for these deficiencies by using their quickness on defense to create turnovers, and on the offensive end by creating mismatches for bigger players. The style the Hurricanes play will negate what little advantage the Buzz Williams small ball lineup has created. The question now is how do the Hokies win a matchup against a mirror of themselves, or in this case a more experienced version of themselves?
Malik Mueller has flourished in the past handful of games. Mueller has benefited from Buzz William’s placing him in the four spot giving him favorable matchups. This game Mueller will be truly tested on the offensive end as he will be matched up against a player who is closer to his size and speed. Mueller will have to depend on his strength and ability to get to the paint to create and score.
The Hokies will need big games from Justin Bibbs and Adam Smith as well to get the win in South Florida. Smith has been shooting the ball very effectively this season and has taken over as the leading scorer for the Hokies on the season. Bibbs however, has regressed the last few games and is extremely due for a great game. What better time than against a solid ACC team to come up with a great game.
This game is very important for both teams, but for different reasons. The “Canes” need to continue to win to stay in the running for an NCCA tournament bid. The Hokies however, are just trying to get better every day and sprinkle some wins in to create momentum for a possible run in the ACC tournament. The Hokies are extremely young, where the Hurricanes are the older more experienced team. The stats say the Hurricanes should win this one easily, however that is why they don’t play the games on paper. For the Hokies to win this one they will need to leave the cold shooting trends back with the cold weather in Blacksburg. However, not even the warm weather of South Florida can warm up the shooting of the Hokies enough to get the win. Miami takes this one 76-69.