Virginia Tech looks to avoid two straight losses to Wake Forest in the second round of the ACC tournament in Brooklyn. The Deacons, despite being the 10th seed, are one of the hotter teams in the conference. They have won four straight – Pittsburgh, #5 Louisville, the Hokies in Blacksburg, and Boston College in the first round of the tournament.
The 7th seed Hokies will have the rest advantage over Wake Forest, as the Deacons played just 24 hours before their rematch against Virginia Tech. That could prove to be crucial. The Hokies have played just three games over the last twelve days. Meanwhile, Wake Forest has played three times over the last seven days. Wake Forest is not the deepest team in the league, so the Hokies should look to use their extra time off to their advantage.
You can read my scouting report and preview of the first game here.
What went right in the first meeting?
John Collins, who was probably snubbed of the ACC player of the year award, had scored 20+ points in twelve straight games. The Hokies were able to limit him to just 13 points, all in the second half. This was mostly due to foul trouble, as Collins committing three fouls within the first 20 minutes. Obviously, Collins presents a huge mismatch for the Hokies with his size, and being able to mitigate that by putting him in foul trouble was a big reason for the Hokies’ first half success. They were able to not only rebound the ball, but drive the ball into the paint at will.
On Senior Day, the Hokies were able to rely on their two seniors to carry the load for them offensively. Seth Allen and Zach LeDay combined to score 44 of the Hokies’ 84 points on the day. Most of their damage was done in the paint. Virginia Tech scored 40 points in the paint that night, and attempted 13 free throws in the first half. Hot perimeter shooting has carried the Hokies over the last stretch of games, but at their core, they are a team that likes to attack inside. They should get back to that Wednesday night.
What went wrong?
One of the reasons the Hokies should look to get to the basket more is because their perimeter shooting faltered down the stretch. Ahmed Hill, who has been cold for more than just one game, went 0-of-5 from deep on Saturday. Even Seth Allen shot just 1-4 from three. As a team, the Hokies had their worst perimeter shooting performance since their win over Virginia, making just two of their thirteen attempts behind the arc in the second half. It is unfair to criticize the team for one mediocre performance behind the arc, but the Hokies cannot really afford another if they want to advance.
The Deacons outscored the Hokies by 10 in the second half because they were able involve Collins in the offense. This opened up not only the inside against a smaller, mismatched LeDay, but it also allowed Bryant Crawford to score a game leading 26 points. The Deacons also shot the ball well from the perimeter all game, hitting on 42.1% of their three-point attempts. Wake has one of the best offensive teams in the country because of their versatile threats around Collins, and they lit the Hokies up to the tune of 89 points. Virginia Tech will have a tough time winning if they give up that many points again.
Wake Forest certainly isn’t the best matchup for Virginia Tech. We saw that in the first meeting. This one will probably be another shootout due to each team’s inability to play stout defense for the majority of the game. The key will once again be mitigating Collins’ impact on the game, as well as taking advantage of the extra rest. Teams usually don’t make it past two days in this tournament due to the quick turnaround. I don’t think the Hokies want to go into the NCAA tournament on a two game losing streak, and I don’t think they will.