Date: Friday, 11/17/17
Tip-Off Time: 2:00pm PST
Radio: KOMO 1000
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Betting Line: Virginia Tech -7.5, O/U 161.5
Virginia Tech 2017-18 Statistics:
Points For per Game: 104.7 ppg (5th)
Points Against per Game: 83 ppg (271st)
Strength of Schedule: 268th
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 111.6 (28th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.7 (100th)
Note: The efficiency numbers are weighted with preseason expectations. They’re a better way to judge offense and defense than raw point totals right now (and always) given the small sample sizes.
Virginia Tech Key Players:
C- Kerry Blackshear, Jr. 6’10, 252: 18.3ppg, 9.0rpg, 3.3apg, 73.1% FG, 69.6% FT
Blackshear is the only true post player on this team. As in he’s the only player above 6’6 on the roster. But he’s a very skilled big man who is capable of both scoring over any Husky defender as well as passing to an open shooter when help arrives.
F- Chris Clarke, Sr. 6’6, 220: 9.3ppg, 9.3rpg, 4.3apg, 57.9% FG, 60% FT
Clarke has been one of the best rebounders in the country for his size so far this season and like Blackshear is a tremendous passer for a nominal power forward. However, he’s not a threat from outside so they’ll likely try to get him the ball in the center of the zone and make plays when the defense collapses.
F- Ahmed Hill, Jr. 6’5, 210: 21.7ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.3apg, 60.5% FG, 66.7% FT, 47.4% 3pt
Hill has been Virginia Tech’s best scorer and single handedly kept the Hokies in the game against Saint Louis last night. He’s made 6+ 3’s per game so far this season so the Huskies absolutely can’t lose track of him when the ball gets passed around the zone.
G- Nickeil Alexander Walker, Fr. 6’3, 185: 19.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.7apg, 54.1% FG, 66.7% FT, 41.2% 3pt
Nickeil is the star freshman for this Virginia Tech team as he was a 4.5 star recruit. He both likes to hoist up 3-pointers as well as drive to the rim and get fouled. Hopefully the zone will encourage him to settle for deep shots rather than penetrate where he’s most dangerous.
G- Justin Robinson, Sr. 5’11, 185: 10.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 5.3apg, 36.8% FG, 66.7% FT, 50% 3pt
Robinson is the primary distributor but he’s also struggled with turnovers so the Huskies should be aggressive playing the passing lanes when he has the ball. He isn’t a scorer like everyone else in the starting lineup but he’s capable of hitting the open 3-pointer if left alone.
Virginia Tech is a team who you know what they’re going to do from the start. They want to run, run, and then run some more. They have the 14th shortest possessions on offense and the 4th shortest on defense. They will happily let you score if it means they get to sprint down the court on offense again.
That will be an interesting challenge for the Huskies. When UW has the ball it means that they can’t settle for shots early in the clock, which plays into Virginia Tech’s hands. But the Dawgs have not been good at working the ball to find an open shot. They will absolutely have to play with more discipline on that end than they did in the 1st half last night against Providence to keep up with Virginia Tech.
Meanwhile, when the Huskies are on defense the Hokies likely won’t have the patience to find cracks in the zone. But they have such great passing bigs that it doesn’t take much for them to slice to the basket for a layup. They’re shooting an astounding 64.2% on 2-point attempts and will likely run circles around Sam Timmins. They also will push the ball in transition off makes and misses so it will be up to UW to get back in position and get the zone set or else Virginia Tech won’t have to worry about a half court offense.
The key to this game will be who can control the pace of the game. I don’t think the Huskies can win an up and down game like the Hokies want to play. They’re fine with making some mistakes if it will tire out the opponent. I saw one play they made against Saint Louis where the VT point guard tried so hard to sprint down the court after a make that he never actually gained control of the ball and ended up pushing directly to a Saint Louis defender who went the other way for a layup.
The Huskies should shift early into a 4 guard lineup with Green or Johnson replacing Timmins which give them the athletes to run with Virginia Tech. No one on the other team can guard Noah Dickerson and if they get Kerry Blackshear in foul trouble then Noah will be literally unstoppable. I’m very tempted to pick the Huskies in an upset win but I don’t like the fact that they had to travel to the East Coast, play a night game, then turn around and play a game at 2p to their body clock. I think it leads to a few mistakes down the stretch which cost them a close one.
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