Friday features an ACC matchup when the Miami Hurricanes (13-16) travel to the Cassell Coliseum to take on the No. 15 Virginia Tech Hokies (22-7). This is the second time these two have played this season with Virginia Tech taking the first matchup, 82-70, back on January 30th. In that contest, Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the way for the Hokies with 25 points, 6 steals and 4 rebounds. In the loss, Chris Lykes led the way for the Hurricanes with 19 points. The two will matchup again Friday with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.
Coming into this one, Miami has gone 4-6 in its last 10 games. Despite the rough stretch, they did beat Pittsburgh in their last contest, 76-63 on Tuesday. For the Hokies, they come into this one 2-2 in their last 4 games. During that stretch they lost to Virginia and Florida State, but beat both Notre Dame and Duke, albeit without Zion Williamson. Still, as the ACC and NCAA tournaments approach, Virginia Tech knows every win can be crucial when it comes to seeding.
In this contest, the Virginia Tech Hokies come in as 10.5-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for this game is set at 134.5 points.
By The Numbers
On the defensive side, Virginia Tech is one of the best teams in the nation. They currently rank 12th in scoring defense, allowing just 61.9 points per game to opponents. The Hokies are especially tough against shooters, allowing opponents to shoot just 40.7% from the field (ranks 31st). Miami, on the other hand, comes in at 161st in the nation on defense, allowing 70.7 points per game to opponents.
Offensively, once again it is Virginia Tech coming in as the higher ranked team. They currently rank 127th in the nation in scoring, averaging 74.5 points per game. The Hokies are especially dangerous from behind the arc, where they are averaging 9.6 threes per game (tied for 28th). Miami comes in tied for 197th in the nation, scoring 72 points per game on offense.
Miami Looking For Upset In Finale
At 13-16 and 11thin the ACC, it certainly has not been the type of season that Miami had hoped for. Still, while it may not change their tournament fortunes, an upset win over the ranked Hokies would be a nice way to end the season.
Leading the way for the Hurricane this season has been sophomore guard, Chris Lykes. On the season, Lykes is averaging 16.2 points per game on 41.2% shooting. In addition to his scoring, he is averaging 2.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Aside from Lykes, the Hurricanes have four other players averaging double-digits. Anthony Lawrence II (12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.2 steals), Zach Johnson (12 points, 3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals), Dejan Vasiljevic (11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds), and Ebuka Izundu (11 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks) have all had nice seasons. The problem for Miami is that the scoring completely drops off after these five as only one other player averages over 3 points per game (Sam Waardenburg at 5.6 per game).
Hokies Look To End Regular Season With A Win
Coach Buzz Williams has put together a nice squad this year at Virginia Tech and they would love nothing more than to roll into the ACC tournament on a high note. Leading the way for the Hokies this season has been sophomore guard, Nickeil Alexander-Walker. On the season, he is averaging 16.5 points per game on 48.2% shooting while also adding 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2 steals per game.
He definitely isn’t their only scorer, though. Kerry Blackshear Jr. (14.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists), Justin Robinson (14.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals) and Ahmed Hill (13.2 points, 3.9 rebounds) have all had nice seasons for the Hokies. Ty Outlaw is the next highest scorer with 8.4 points in addition to pulling down 5.1 boards per game.
Hokies Win, But By How Much?
Between the combination of their defense and home court advantage, I feel pretty confident that the Hokies will win this one outright. The real question is by how much. When it comes to spreads, both of these are .500 teams in their current situations. As home favorites, Virginia Tech is 6-6 ATS while, as away underdogs, Miami is 3-3. With that in mind, I have to go to the offensive and defensive statistics and both of those favor the Hokies in this one. While their offense is just mildly better, their defense has been shutdown this season (see their game against NC State where they held them to 24 points). Despite the large spread, I am putting my money on the Hokies to cover at home. Take Virginia Tech despite laying 10.5 points.