Virginia Tech basketball: Hokies start ACC Tournament play against UNC

The Virginia Tech basketball team kicks off their ACC tournament against North Carolina in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.  

What: Virginia Tech Hokies (15-5, 9-4 ACC) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (18-9, 10-6 ACC)

When: Thursday, March 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina

TV: ESPN

For the first time, the Hokies earned a double-bye coming into the tournament as the third seed. That bye was on purpose, leading up to the tournament though they didn’t realize that they would go almost two weeks without a game. The final two games of the season were canceled due to contract tracing within the Virginia Tech program.

The difference between the first pause and the second is that during the first one the team couldn’t practice much. The team has been practicing leading up to Thursday’s game so that will be an advantage.

North Carolina is coming into the game with a two-game winning streak and is the sixth seed. In their regular-season finale, they defeated rivals, Duke and had a commanding 101-59 win over Notre Dame in the second round of the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels made a statement last night against the Fighting Irish and Tech will need to shut down UNC’s momentum quickly.

Keys to a Virginia Tech basketball win

It’s hard not to be a little worried going into this game after the first COVID pause. Tech looked sloppy in the game against Georgia Tech after being off for 17 days. Now that tournament play has started, the Hokies can’t afford to look rusty when they step back on the court.

Another key to a win will be winning the rebound battle. UNC is a terrific rebounding team on both ends of the court. They have the best rebound margin in the country with 11 and the best rebounds per game percentage with15.7. It will be difficult for the Hokies to win if UNC wins the rebound battle.

Winning the turnover battle will be an important part of the game for the Hokies. UNC commits around 15 turnovers per game, if the Hokies can get them close to that number and come away with points from the turnovers that could be a game-changer.

Last Meeting

The previous meeting between these two was canceled due to COVID, so this will be the first time they face-off this season. The last meeting came in the 2020 ACC Tournament where the Hokies fell 78-56 to the Tar Heels. Tech will be looking to rewrite that script tonight.

Players to Watch

Virginia TechTyrece Radford is the guy that makes the Hokies run. A few weeks ago it was unclear if he would play in the ACC tournament but having him back is a huge boost for Virginia Tech basketball. He’s averaging 11.4 points per game, the second-most on the team. The sophomore is also averaging 6.1 rebounds per game.

North CarolinaArmando Bacot is the leader for UNC. In last night’s game against Notre Dame, he led the team with 20 points and 13 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 sophomore has started all but one game this season for the Tar Heels, averaging 12.1 points per game. He’s also got a 62% field goal percentage.

The winner of this game will face Florida State on Friday in the semifinals.