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The (Quick) Matchup: Virginia Tech vs UVA

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UVA comes to town with a 12-1 record, looking to continue their winning streak against Virginia Tech. But will the Hokies end that streak tonight?

Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Hokies take on archrivals #5 UVA tonight. Virginia is once again one of the top teams in the country, so this one is going to take more luck than effort for the Hokies to win. But the Hokies were able to make this game a nail-biter in Blacksburg last year, as Virginia needed a late run sparked by Justin Anderson to squeak out the victory.

Virginia’s offensive hallmark is efficiency. Their 50% FG percentage is 10th in the nation. The Cavaliers also have one of the most patient offenses in the country, often slowing the pace down and using up the entire shot clock before taking (what is usually an efficient) a shot. Bennett is one of the top coaches in America, making it difficult to defend UVA tactically, as well as talent-wise. He does a phenomenal job with player movement and gets his guys to move the ball. If the Hokies can disrupt the relatively slow pace the Cavaliers play at, they have a chance to make the UVA offense less effective.

UVA’s defensive success is partly due their slow pace of play. Limiting opponents’ possessions to a minimum, they only let teams score about 60 PPG game on them. However, they are excellent on the glass, leading the nation in total rebounds. Zach LeDay, Kerry Blackshear Jr., and Shane Henry have their work cut out for them.

Players to look out for:

Malcolm Brogdon is the primary facilitator for the Virginia offense. On the season, he’s averaging 17 PPG as well as 3 APG. There isn’t much bad you can say about him. He can get to the rim, he takes care of the ball, and he’s also shooting 41.2% from deep.

In addition, Anthony Gill is outstanding on the interior. He’s great at subtle movements that get him wide open under the basket. With the threats the Cavaliers have, there’s usually plenty of space down low for him to operate. He’s especially dangerous as the roll man due to his ability to catch and finish. Defending both Brogdon and Gill will be difficult, so the Hokies have to go for the turnover at certain points to avoid letting UVA’s offense get into a rhythm. If they do, Virginia’s defense can stymie the Hokies’ offense and the game could be over earlier than everyone would like it to.

Prediction:

Being in Blacksburg is big for Virginia Tech. Feeding off the crowd’s emotion against a rival should be a major advantage for Buzz’s side. However, the talent disparity is too obvious to ignore. The Hokies took overtime to beat an NC State side that pales in comparison to UVA. I don’t see the Hokies getting lucky enough or UVA missing enough shots for the Hokies to pull this one out. I think it’ll be a defensive battle, with the score ending around:

UVA 67-60 Virginia Tech