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The Matchup: Virginia Tech vs North Carolina A&T

Virginia Tech looks for a third straight W over the struggling Aggies.

Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Hokies (2-1) culminate their four game homestand against the North Carolina A&T Aggies on Tuesday night. The Aggies (0-5), well…aren’t very good, as evidenced by their record. They rank near the bottom of the 351 teams in the NCAA in most categories, including points for and points against per game. They have lost all five of their games by an average margin of 23.4 points, the 11th worst in the country. That is beyond awful.

There’s a reason North Carolina A&T is averaging just 64 points per contest. The Aggies are essentially a one man show on offense, and that show is Bruce Beckford. The 6-7 senior has played well this season coming in this game, averaging a solid 18 points per contest. In addition, Beckford is a threat from beyond the arc, shooting just over 46% from downtown. He is also a volume shooter, taking nearly 22% of the Aggies’ field goal attempts and accounting for 28.6% of their points. To put that in perspective, Steph Curry has scored 28.5% of the Golden State Warriors’ points this season.

The obvious matchup to watch defensively for the Hokies is Beckford against whoever is guarding him. If the Hokies can shut him down, it is unlikely North Carolina A&T will give them any trouble on offense. Due to Beckford’s frame and skill set, Buzz could delegate the responsibility of guarding him to a variety of players, but Chris Clarke should shadow Beckford for most of the night. He matches up well with his 6-6 frame, and has the athleticism to defend the versatile Beckford on the perimeter. Clarke will also need to match Beckford’s intensity on the boards, as he also leads his team in rebounds per game with 8.4.

Offensively, the Hokies should have no problem taking advantage of a poor Aggies’ defense. They have given up over 80 points in four out of their five games this season, and are in the bottom five in Defensive Rating. Teams have been able to move the ball on the Aggies effectively, as they have allowed the third most assists in the country. The Hokies also boast the 13th best rebounding margin in the nation, creating an advantage on the glass. Zach LeDay has averaged 5 offensive boards per game, and he has a chance to create many second chance opportunities against a subpar rebounding team.

The player to watch offensively for the Hokies is Seth Allen. He has certainly been an improvement, but one aspect of his game which hasn’t been great is his three-point shooting. He shot 38% from three at Maryland, but that has percentage has dropped to 31% with the Hokies. Some of it might be rust, some of it might be adjusting to a new offense.  But the Aggies have allowed teams to shoot an incredible 41.4% from three point range, meaning there will be plenty of open looks from downtown. The Hokies need another outside threat for the defense to respect, so maybe this is the game Allen gets going and becomes that player they need.

I think this will be a game where Buzz self-scouts towards the end. Maybe he tinkers with the lineup a little bit or runs new plays. The Hokies are young so there are definitely improvements to be made, especially before a huge test against Iowa State on Friday.

Prediction (2-1):

Everything points to this being a cakewalk for the Hokies. They have momentum after two straight wins and are at home again. North Carolina A&T is not good and the Hokies are much, much more talented. Buzz Williams is a good enough coach to get his young players ready and make sure there won’t be an upset in this one. As long as they make more than half their free throws (I wish that was a joke).

Hokies win their third straight, 81-62.

Link to NCA&T roster

Link to NCA&T Season Statistics