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Week One Basketball News and Notes

Preview and predictions of this weekend's game and more.

Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally time for college basketball!! For Hokies fans, that hasn’t meant too much over the course of the last few seasons, but there are reasons for optimism and the fun starts Saturday night.

What I’m Looking Forward to this Season

This team’s strength lies in their guard play, and that is where they should win games this year. The Hokies feature a bevy of athletes in the backcourt, but the main player I’m focusing on is Seth Allen. Virginia Tech severely lacked a playmaker last season, and Allen looks to fill that void. It will fall upon his shoulders to keep the ball moving and create good looks for teammates. Hokie fans should also look forward to seeing freshmen 4-star recruits Chris Clarke and Kerry Blackshear Jr., who are both lengthy athletes who can get to the rim.

Defensively, the loss of Joey van Zegeren weakens the front court. He led the team in rebounds per game last year. This year, that responsibility falls upon the duo of Johnny Hamilton and Satchel Pierce. I’m looking forward to see improvement on the defensive interior, and the improvement the big men make may determine how much success the Hokies have this season.

The Hokies lost plenty of close games last season, mainly due to inexperience and a lack of execution late in games. Another year under Buzz should help fix that issue. The Hokies have not had this much talent on their roster in a while, so how Buzz manages the ripe talent he has will be one of the more underrated yet intriguing storylines to watch.

And I’m looking forward to beating UVA, obviously (who isn’t??).

Official Final Record Prediction: 14-16

I’m very tempted to predict an above .500 record for the Hokies. I really do believe in the talent level and the coaching. But something is telling me they need another year to grow and gel before they can do that. The ACC remains an incredibly tough conference to play in, but I will predict the Hokies to win 5 ACC games on their schedule, up from just two last season. I’m confident in the backcourt to compete with most teams, but the front court still worries me. They will need to show marked improvement to compete with the talented bigs of the ACC to best the 14 wins I predicted for this team.

This Week’s Matchup: VT vs ASU

When and where: Saturday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. @ Cassel

The Alabama State Hornets. Yeah, I didn’t think they existed either. The Hornets won 19 games last season, so it’s not like they’re perennial losers. But their strength of schedule last season was dead last in the entire country (351st of 351). The Hornets actually feature a very short backcourt, with three of their seven guards listed under 6 feet tall, meaning that the Hokies could give them plenty of problems defensively with their length.

However, height isn’t everything. The Hornets’ primary scoring presence is Jemel Waters, the shortest player on the roster. He’s averaged about 14 PPG the last two years and will be the Hokies’ defensive focus. Luckily for the Hokies, the backcourt is the strength of the team. Waters will most likely have a difficult time on Saturday night scoring the ball efficiently and consistently.

The Hokies also face a test on offense against a team that gave up the 60th least PPG in the nation last season, and ranked 50th in defensive rating. Not spectacular, but respectable. We will get an early look at what the newcomers to the Hokies bring on offense against an underrated Hornets defense.

Although the Hornets and Hokies had records on different sides of the spectrum last year, the Hokies should win this game. Virginia Tech’s strength matches up well the Alabama State’s, which bodes well for the Hokies.

Prediction: Hokies win their first home game, rolling over the Hornets 74-62.

From The Media recently projected Virginia Tech to finish in 11th in the ACC standings. Here’s what they had to say about the Hokies:

"Justin Bibbs broke out as a star for Buzz Williams last year, and would have been in the mix for more ACC freshman honors if not for the title-winning trio down in Durham. Bibbs is joined by fellow sophomore and returning starter Ahmed Hill as well as former Maryland guard Seth Allen, a double-digit scorer with the Terps, in a solid backcourt that will make the Hokies dangerous."

I recommend reading the entire article, which you can find here. Great read.