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Virginia Tech

vs.

Virginia

College Basketball

Pick

2/10/18

The battle of Virginia has some relevance in that many people believe the Cavaliers to have the best team in the country. It’s been an incredible season for Virginia after not being ranked in the AP Poll Top 25 before the season. Virginia Tech is having a decent season, but things may look a bit different a week from now with this game only a few days before a trip to Duke.

The Hokies have been solid this season, but don’t have any wins that truly stand out, although they have a slew that have come on the road. Of course, Notre Dame and Boston College can’t really be compared with Virginia. The Hoos have been absolutely dominant at home with their last three being by double digits, most notably a 61-36 beat down of Clemson.

To beat Virginia, you need a deep, balanced team that can score at numerous positions. Virginia leads the ACC in almost every relevant defensive stat and give up an effective FG% of only 44. Tech has a good offense that leads the ACC from two-point range (57.5%), but that’s about the only stat that stands out. The issue for the Hokies most of the season has come defensively and that’ll probably be the case in this one. They rank as one of the least efficient teams on that end and allow more than 40 percent from deep.

Virginia is known as a defensive force, but this is still a team that has players that can consistently score in Kyle Guy, Devon Hall and Ty Jerome. Rounding things up, they also have talented guys that can step up when needed whether it’s De’Andre Hunter off the bench or Isaiah Wilkins. This team gets dirty on the defensive end with pack-line defense, but it also has numerous scorers that are far from easy to stop.

The good news for the Hokies is that they have plenty of offensive options with six guys averaging at least 8.6 points per game. Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs can get hot from deep and lead the team in scoring, while Kerry Blackshear and Justin Robinson are more useful working inside the arc, although can also shoot decently. The x-factors are the ones that can do a number of things with freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker at the top of the list and Chris Clarke, who comes off the bench.

Tech has the tools to have success, but as seen in almost every game this season, no one has been able to get through this Virginia defense. Even Duke, one of the best offensive teams in the country, scored just 63 points. And even if Tech has some success and goes for more than 60 points, its defense may be a bigger liability, especially on the road.

There are no reasons to believe the Hokies can stop Guy, Hall or Jerome from hitting shots. They just gave up 84 points to Miami at home and have been exploited for more than 90 points by teams like Louisville and Florida State. Tech may be able to score more than other teams due to the balance and numerous options, but that still won’t be enough with a subpar defense. Some of the same players are around from last year’s meetings in which they split as Virginia won 71-48 at home, but Tech came back and won 80-78 in double overtime on its home floor.    

Our Pick - Virginia -11.5

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