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The Matchup: Virginia Tech vs Grambling St

The Hokies are back in action at Cassell on Saturday night, taking on the Grambling St. Tigers.

Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Riding a three game win streak, the Hokies welcome the Grambling State Tigers (2-7). Since 2011, Grambling State has been one of the worst teams in college basketball, winning just 13 games. They endured a 0-28 winless season in 2012, and their run of terrible play has continued into this season. The Tigers really don’t pose any threats on offense or defense, such this is a very winnable game for the Hokies. Their scoring margin is -6.6, but in their losses the Tigers have been outscored by an average of 20 points. Things could turn ugly in Blacksburg for the visitors.

Offensively, Grambling St. is terrible. The Tigers average 62.7 points per game and shoot a very low 40% from the field. A lot of that has to do with a lack of talent. Their leading scorer, Nigel Riberio, is a 5-10 freshman guard who defenses have keyed in on. As a result, he’s only shooting 38% from the field while taking 21% of the teams shots, which doesn’t lead to success on the offensive end for the team. Speaking of team basketball, the Tigers don’t share the ball well either. They rank near the bottom in the country in assists and assists per game, which again is a talent issue. When they do get open shots, they just can’t execute and finish the play. The Hokies will be able to match up well with Grambling State, as the top 4 minutes per game leaders are guards, which is a position the Hokies are deep at. Virginia Tech will have no trouble at all disrupting an already inept offense.

For the Hokies, it was good to see some progress against the Lamar Cardinals (even though Lamar isn’t good). Even though they didn’t shoot the ball at a great percentage (48%), the ball was still moving and they were getting open looks. Virginia Tech should not encounter too much resistance from the Tigers’ defense. Teams have been shooting about 44% on them, and that number skyrockets to 53% on attempts inside the three point line. That means that the Hokies should have a lot of success taking the ball to the rim, especially because Grambling St. lacks rim protection. Combining a porous defense with the superior talent and athleticism for the Hokies should lead to plenty of offensive success. Hopefully in this contest, guys will knock down their open shots.

One player I’ll be watching for Virginia Tech is Chris Clarke. He’s already shown what an athlete he can be, but I want o see him play under control. Admittedly, he has shown improvement this season in that regard. However, he needs to do it consistently because he’ll be the definition of a turnover machine in conference play.

Prediction:

Grambling St. is not a good team. The Hokies really have no business losing this game. I really don’t see this one being close. The thing about playing opponents like Grambling St. is that it’s hard to see improvement and progress because they don’t play teams that test them. And since competition breeds success, gauging this team is hard to do. The game against West Virginia I think will be the only game before conference play which will show how much better this team is now than in November. As for this game…

Hokies roll, 87-58. Greg Donlon doubles his minutes played for the season from 5 to 10.