Tonight the Virginia Tech Hokies (6-4) and VMI Keydets (5-6) will meet for the 132 time on the hardwood. Virginia Tech leads the series record at 88-43 all-time and have won the last three meetings between the former conference foes.
Hokies, Keydets renew series in Cassell Coliseum: Tech, VMI meet in Hokies' most-played non-conference rivalry http://t.co/JE8NHny4lh— VT Men's Basketball (@VT_MBBall) December 21, 2014
Virginia Tech, last time out, beat another Southern Conference team in The Citadel Bulldogs, 64-61. It was an up and down game for the Hokies who did not shoot the ball or defend particularly well, yet were able to pull out a close win by hitting some critical free-throws down the stretch. Adam Smith paced Virginia Tech with 16 points and was a spark in the second half, which eventually pushed the Hokies to a victory.
The VMI Keydets are playing their brand of basketball this season as they are 2nd in the nation in scoring with 88.9 points per game (2 huge wins against non-NCAA competition are helping this percentage), but they are also averaging just over 41 rebounds per game, which could make this a tough outing for VT who struggles rebounding the ball. QJ Peterson is the leading scorers for the Keydets and is averaging 21.4 points per game while shooting close to 40% from the field. He is a streaking shooter that will put up a lot of shots, but could really hurt this VT defense if he gets hot. The other two guards, Marshall and Brown, will also put up a lot of shots for the Keydets, while the big men have one job and that is to rebound and reverse the ball. Look for VMI to slow down VT's transition game and to take more shots than the Hokies.
Overall, I see this as a tough matchup for how the VT squad is currently playing. Against the Citadel Bulldogs, VT's perimeter defense was shaky at best as they did not fight over the top of ball screens to challenge the 3 pointers, which the Bulldogs hit 13 of 34. If VMI is allowed to take 34 three point shots this game might run at a pace that VT cannot keep up with.
So, I look for Buzz's squad to work really hard on the defensive end to limit open shot attempts and to then crash the boards to force VMI to play transition defense. If VT can get in to their up-tempo transition offense I think that will force VMI to foul on the defensive end and to take bad shots of offense.
Prediction 75-72, VT.
Television/Internet: ESPN3 - Andrew Allegretta & Mack McCarthy
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