The Hokies' basketball squad seems to have regained some of their form after a tough mid-season stretch, as they're winners of their last two. On Sunday night, there's a chance the Hokies could have a three game win streak as they travel to Wake Forest, who have won just two ACC games this season, with one of those wins being against Boston College. Virginia Tech emerged victorious against the Demon Deacons at home earlier this season in a tight contest, winning 93-91 as the game came down to the final seconds and some missed free throws. Despite Wake Forest's poor showing in the last month or so, the Hokies still need to be wary of a team that almost took them to OT at home.
I've already written a game preview for game against WF earlier this season, which you can check out here. It covers the Demon Deacons' offensive threats and how the Hokies can attack them.
What went right in the first game:
In the first match up, the Hokies had one of their best offensive performances, scoring 93 points. They shot 50% from the field and knocked down 44% of their three point attempts. The offense was primarily run through Justin Bibbs, who had a career night scoring 32 points while shooting a remarkable 12-18 from the field. One of the keys to Wake Forest's game plan was to run Bibbs off the three-point line and force him to drive. That plan obviously faltered as Bibbs was able to consistently get into the lane and finish.
Bibbs was also the beneficiary of a lot of fast break opportunities. Wake Forest played sloppy basketball for long stretches of the game and turned the ball over on 19% of their possessions. That allowed the Hokies' speed to dominate the game over Wake Forest's physicality. On the season, the Demon Deacons have turned the ball over on 17% of their possessions which below average. That bodes well for the Hokies, but the question remains can Virginia Tech force turnovers on the road? The Hokies haven't been as good on the road as at home partly due to their inconsistency in forcing turnovers outside of Cassell. They were able to force 15 TO's against Boston College, so they'll look to continue to force their opponents into mistakes and capitalize on them.
What went wrong:
While the offense was humming, the defense was suffering giving up 91 points. If the Demon Deacons didn't turn it over, they scored. Wake Forest shot 58.9% from the field and shot a deadly 54.2% from behind the arc. I don't expect WF to shoot that well from the field again. However, the Hokies allowed way too many open looks which is a huge reason why those percentages are so high. Since that game, the Hokies have been much better defensively and much shaper in their rotations, so I expect to see a vastly different performance on defense.
Wake Forest also dominated the glass, out rebounding the Hokies 31 to 21, including eight on the offensive glass. Expect the Demon Deacons to crash the offensive glass again to counter the Hokies' likely run-n-gun mentality strategy. Devin Thomas, WF's best player had 11 rebounds by himself proving to be too much for Zach LeDay. The Hokies were without Chris Clarke in the first match up, and he should make a big difference in this game, as his energy and hustle are noticeable when pursuing loose balls.
Although the Hokies won by 15 against Boston College, it wasn't a pretty game by any means. Virginia Tech turned it over 15 times which is simply too many against a team that is still hunting for it's first win in the ACC. Wake Forest, despite having just two ACC wins, is much more talented than Boston College and the Hokies won't be able to get away with bad plays like they did against the Eagles. And the game is away from home, which may make the final score closer than the Hokies would like it to be.
This could possibly be a trap game. Wake Forest probably feels like they should have won the first time around, but they just haven't been playing good basketball lately. I'm taking the Hokies to win this one.
Hokies win a close one, 81-77.