Monday features an ACC showdown of top-25 teams as the No. 15 Louisville Cardinals (16-6, 7-2 in the ACC) travel to Cassell Coliseum to take on the No. 12 Virginia Tech Hokies (18-3, 7-2 in the ACC).
For Louisville, they had won six games in a row prior to losing to No. 9 North Carolina, 79-69, on Saturday. Now, they will look to get back on track as they travel to take on Virginia Tech. For the Hokies, they are coming off one of the most amazing games of the season, mostly because of the offensive futility displayed. The Hokies only scored 47 points against No. 23 North Carolina State, but they still won by 23 points. Yes, you read that correctly, they held NC State to just 24 points for the game. Virginia Tech is going to need to bring that same defensive prowess, as Louisville is likely to put more offensive pressure than that. Virginia Tech will have their work cut out for them over the next several weeks as they have No. 15 Louisville, No. 3 Virginia and No. 2 Duke all on the docket. For Louisville and Virginia Tech, though, they will square off Monday with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.
In this contest, the Virginia Tech Hokies come in as 4-point favorites playing at home. The over/under on total points scored comes in at 137.
By The Numbers
If the NC State game didn’t already prove it to you, Virginia Tech has one of the best defenses in the country. They rank 12th in the NCAA, allowing opponents to score just 62.1 points per game and 66th in the country in opposing field goal percentage (opponents are shooting just 41.2% against them). Louisville isn’t too shabby, either. They currently rank 87th in the country in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 67.6 points per game and 72nd in opponent’s field goal percentage (41.3%).
Offensively, Louisville gets the edge as they rank 46th in the country in scoring, averaging 79.6 points per game. Don’t be fooled by the 47 points the Hokies scored in their last game, though, as that was more of an anomaly as opposed to the norm. Virginia Tech currently ranks 56th in the nation in scoring, averaging 78.8 points per game. The Hokies are especially dangerous from behind the arc, as they are averaging 10.5 threes per game (12th in the nation).
Louisville Looking To Bounce Back From Conference Lost
At 7-2, the Louisville Cardinals are tied for 4th in the ACC and looking to stay in the race. Unfortunately, they just lost to the team in 3rd (UNC), and they have Duke and Virginia ahead of them. Needless to say, every game is important, especially as they face a conference foe that they are tied at 4thwith.
The Cardinals are led in scoring by sophomore forward Jordan Nwora. He is averaging 17.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1 steal per game. He is shooting 47.9% from the field and 40.2% from behind the arc.
Aside from Nwora, the Cardinals have two other players averaging double-digits. Dwayne Sutton is averaging 10.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game, while Christen Cunningham is averaging 10.4 points, 2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. Coming in 4th in scoring is big man Steven Enoch, who is averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Hokies Looking To Stay In The Mix In Loaded ACC
Just like Louisville, Virginia Tech needs every conference win that they can get to stay in the mix in an ACC Conference that is loaded with top-25 teams. To do so, they will look to standout sophomore guard, Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The guard is averaging 17.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He is also shooting 53.5% from the field and 41.5% from behind the arc.
The Hokies have three other players averaging double-digits. Justin Robinson (14.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals), Ahmed Hill (13.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists) and Kerry Blackshear Jr. (12.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2 assists) have all been major contributors this season. The scoring drops off after that, though, as the next highest scorer (Ty Outlaw) is averaging 7.8 points and no one after that is averaging more than 5 points per game.
Pretty Even Matchup
On paper, these two teams are pretty evenly matched up. They both play pretty well at both ends of the floor. I think Virginia Tech bounces back from only scoring 47 against NC State, but I also think they will have a tougher time holding down Louisville’s offense. Ultimately, I think this game will come down to how well the Hokies shoot the three. If the Cardinals can keep them in check, it may be Louisville’s game to steal on the road. Playing at home, though, I think Virginia Tech is going to come out with some energy, and I see them not only winning this one but covering the 4-point spread. For my money, I am taking Virginia Tech at -4.