Check out today’s “3-Point Shot” for our top college basketball plays:
No. 13 Virginia Tech at Penn State
When and Where: Tuesday, Nov. 27, Bryce Jordan Center, Happy Valley, Pa., 7 p.m. EST.
Looking for its first 6-0 start in six years, No. 13 Virginia Tech plays its first true road game of the season Tuesday night when it faces Penn State as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Hokies seek second win over Big Ten foe
The 13th-ranked Hokies (5-0) are off to their best start since winning the first seven games of the 2012-13 season and are coming off a 75-37 rout of St. Francis of Pennsylvania on Saturday.
We move to 5-0 🤙
• Alexander-Walker & three others score in double figures
• Hill posts a team-high 19 points
• We nail 14 3-pointers and hold St. Francis (Pa.) to 37 points
— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) November 24, 2018
Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw combined to hit 10 of 15 from 3-point range as the Hokies put five players in double figures. Virginia Tech is shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc and has four players with at least nine treys.
“When we get teams in rotation, those are the types of shots that we want. Any time the ball gets to the paint off the pass or the bounce, the opponent is probably in rotation defensively, and now it leads to a long close-out,” coach Buzz Williams explained post-game. “Those are the 3’s that we want to shoot. We need Ty [Outlaw] to exclusively shoot those balls. I think of the nine balls he shot, three of them were not exactly that. When he shoots those – the right shots – I think he’ll shoot at a higher clip.”
One area Williams is looking for improvement is from Kerry Blackshear in terms of defensive discipline. Blackshear is averaging 12.2 points on 58.1 percent shooting despite playing just 20.2 minutes per game due to foul trouble — he has been whistled for 19 fouls in 101 minutes.
“We need KJ to not be hampered with foul trouble,” Williams said. “Our play catalog shrinks significantly when K is not playing. Our ball-screen coverage changes negatively when KJ is not in. So many of his fouls are 32 feet from the basket, and somehow we’ve got to get to the point where P.J. (Horne) is mean and we can play KJ when we want to play him.”
Nickeil-Alexander Walker is scoring a team-high 19.6 points per game, and Justin Robinson is contributing 15.6 points and a team-leading 6.2 assists per contest. The Hokies are 13th in Division I in shooting at 51.3 percent through Sunday’s games and averaging 82.4 points.
The Hokies are 5-7 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge all-time but have won their last two. This is the third time they are playing Penn State in this event, with Virginia Tech losing in the most recent contest on the road in 2014.
PSU out to bounce back from loss in Cancun final
Penn State (3-2) came up short in the Cancun Classic, losing 59-56 to Bradley in the title game last Wednesday, its first loss in the four games it played as part of the event.
BLACK ⚫️ AND PINK 🌸 GAME IS 1️⃣ DAY AWAY!
Break out Penn State’s original colors for tomorrow’s @PennStateMBB game against Virginia Tech 🏀
— Legion of Blue (@LegionofBluePSU) November 26, 2018
Lamar Stevens scored a season-high 27 points for the Nittany Lions, but they were held to one point in the final 4:09 and shot just 4 for 27 from 3-point range and 28.8 percent overall.
“I was proud of the way we fought and competed and came back and cut it to a one or two possession game,” coach Patrick Chambers told the school’s official website. “We had some good looks. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go your way and it doesn’t go in, but yet, we were still in the game, we were still right there, we were still within striking distance. I can’t say that we didn’t play hard or compete, I thought we did. They made one more play than us.”
Stevens has scored at least 22 points in every game and is averaging 24.5 on the season while shooting 48.3 percent. The junior is also pulling down a team-best 8.8 rebounds per contest for the Nittany Lions, who have limited opponents to 22.9 percent shooting from 3-point range and 64.6 points per game.
Myles Dread and Josh Reaves are scoring 11.8 points per contest, and Rasir Bolton rounds out Penn State’s double-digit scorers at 10.4 per game. The Nittany Lions have lost 10 straight non-conference games to AP Top 25 opponents since their 82-74 victory over then-No. 6 North Carolina in the second round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament but did go 3-4 against ranked teams in Big Ten play.
Penn State is 8-9 all-time in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and split its eight home games in the series. The Nittany Lions won their last home game in this event, 67-60 over Georgia Tech in 2016.
Penn State is:
- 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games as an underdog between 0.5 and 6.5 points.
- The under is 4-0 in its last four games.
- The under is 6-2 in its last eight games vs. ACC teams.
- The under is 21-8 in its last 29 non-conference games.
Virginia Tech is:
- 4-0 ATS in its last four road games.
- 6-1 ATS in its last seven road games vs. teams with an above-.500 home winning percentage.
- 5-0 ATS in its last five road games as a favorite.
- The under is 11-3 in its last 14 games.
- The under is 6-2 in its last eight games as a road favorite.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five games as a favorite between 0.5 and 6.5 points.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Hokies are certainly going to be challenged in their first true road game, but they should be confident having already beaten a ranked Purdue team in the title game of the Charleston Classic. Virginia Tech has multiple sources of offense and is a versatile offensive team when, as Williams noted, Blackshear avoids foul trouble.
Virginia Tech is probably not going to light it up from 3-point range like it has in the early part of the season since Penn State is solid along the perimeter defensively, but its balanced scoring should help it pass this road test.
Prediction: Pick: Virginia Tech -1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The Hokies are forcing 19.2 turnovers per game and limiting opponents to 60.6 points per contest. Penn State plays a sticky type of defense and is also adept at forcing turnovers at 14.8 per contest. While Virginia Tech has a smoother offense, both teams are in the Top 50 of defensive efficiency per KenPom, and the expectation is the winner will only reach the mid-to-upper 60s.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 139
Half-Time Side Pick
The Hokies are a good 3-point shooting team, but a really good team shooting inside the arc as well, hitting nearly 60 percent of their 2-point shots as well. Virginia Tech does not go to the foul line all that much, but its offensive efficiency against a Penn State team allowing opponents to hit 53.1 percent of its shots inside the arc makes the Hokies the pick to cover a slim spread.
Prediction: Pick: Virginia Tech -2
Half-Time Total Bet
This is an instance where the number feels low based on the track record of both teams. Virginia Tech had 72 or more points in the opening 20 minutes its first four wins, with St. Francis’ lack of quality and the Hokies’ defense a potent combination in there being 55 first-half points.
Penn State has been at 65 and above in all five of its contests, including a combined 67 in its opening 20 minutes versus DePaul in its only game against a high-major opponent.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 65.5 points