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No. 12 Virginia Tech at No. 23 North Carolina State
When and Where: Saturday, Feb. 2, PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C., 12 p.m. EST.
Twelfth-ranked Virginia Tech gets another chance to show it is more than a home-dominant team in a key ACC clash Saturday at No. 23 North Carolina State.
Hokies seek statement road win
Despite being one game out of first in the ACC, No. 12 Virginia Tech (17-3, 6-2 ACC) has yet to distinguish itself as a contender for the conference title. It has taken care of business at home, and beaten the teams it should have beat on the road, but beating the elite ACC teams on the road has yet to happen.
The Hokies’ two conference losses have come by a combined 43 points at Virginia and North Carolina, giving up 184 points in those games as the teams hit 29 of 58 from 3-point range. Since that loss to the Tar Heels, Virginia Tech has posted back-to-back wins and is coming off an 82-70 win over Miami on Wednesday night.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 25 points, Ahmed Hill added 15 of his 19 in the second half, and Justin Robinson had 17 points in 19 minutes as they picked up the slack for a foul-prone Kerry Blackshear, who fouled out in just 17 minutes and finished with one point.
Ahmed Hill (@MED_XIII) was on 🔥 when it mattered most last night
— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) January 31, 2019
The win may have come at a cost as Robinson appeared to suffer a foot injury and was in a walking boot at the end of the game. Robinson is second on the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and 3-point shooting (41.1 percent) and is a key component of a perimeter attack that is shooting 42.3 percent from beyond the arc.
“I don’t know,” Hokies coach Buzz Williams told the Virginian-Pilot when asked about Robinson’s status. “I’ll have to figure that out, if that’s what it is.”
The Hokies do not lack for ball-handlers and perimeter firepower with Alexander-Walker, Hill, Ty Outlaw and Isaiah Wilkins, but Robinson had been on a tear before landing awkwardly in the second half Wednesday night. He scored a career-high 35 points against Syracuse and hit 9 of 13 3-pointers in that win.
Robinson shot 56 percent from 3-point range and 60 percent overall while averaging 20.5 points and 5.0 assists in his last four games.
Virginia Tech has split its four road games in conference play but lost three straight in Raleigh since a 77-69 win in 2011.
Wolfpack also in search of marquee victory
North Carolina State (16-5, 4-4) is currently in line for a second NCAA Tournament berth in as many seasons under Kevin Keatts, but like Virginia Tech, is looking to burnish a resume in which its signature win was a 78-71 home victory over then-No. 7 Auburn.
The Wolfpack are 1-4 against AP Top 25 teams and have lost all three such games against conference rivals. The most recent setback was a 66-65 overtime loss at home to No. 3 Virginia on Tuesday night.
Markell Johnson scored 14 points as N.C. State rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit and got to overtime despite shooting a season-low 34.4 percent. Wyatt Walker contributed a season-high 11 points and seven rebounds, nearly doubling his season average.
— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) January 30, 2019
The Wolfpack also boast a high-powered and balanced offense, with Torin Dorn leading four players in double figures at 14.4 points per game. N.C. State is shooting 37.8 percent from beyond the arc and is third in the ACC in scoring at 84.4 points per game.
Keatts has yet to lose back-to-back games at PNC Arena since taking over, with North Carolina State owning a 28-5 home record since his arrival last season.
North Carolina State is:
- 4-1 ATS in its last five home games vs. teams with an above-.500 road record.
- The home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four games between the teams.
- The under is 12-5 in its last 17 games as a home favorite.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five games vs. ACC opponents.
- The under is 7-1 in its last eight games as a home favorite between 0.5-6.5 points.
Virginia Tech is:
- 1-4 ATS in its last five games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 2-5 ATS in its last seven games vs. ACC opponents.
- 6-13 ATS in its last 19 games vs. North Carolina State.
- The under is 5-2 in its last seven games as an underdog.
- The under is 7-2 in its last nine Saturday games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Robinson’s status as of 9:30 a.m. CST was “doubtful,” with some reporting via social media he will not play. While Virginia Tech is a team capable of compensating for his absence, N.C. State may be too good an opponent to overcome, and its two subpar efforts in big road games is a huge red flag.
Williams was pleased with the effort his team had in that loss at Chapel Hill, and the Hokies did bounce back with a pummeling of Syracuse and a mature effort without Robinson in the second half at Miami. But the Wolfpack have the backcourt personnel who can match up with Virginia Tech and are in need of a win over a Top 25 opponent as much as the Hokies.
Prediction: Pick: North Carolina State -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a pick with the hedge Robinson does in fact sit out due to his injury.
Despite both teams having highly efficient offenses and prolific perimeter attacks, both teams can also get after it defensively. In the case of N.C. State, it can negate Virginia Tech’s 3-point attack, especially if Robinson cannot play. Though the Wolfpack will try to speed up the game, the Hokies likely will go in the opposite direction.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 152
Half-Time Side Pick
This is a pick against the Hokies without Robinson, though both teams have failed in their respective roles against elite teams. Virginia Tech trailed by a combined 36 points at halftime at Virginia and North Carolina, while the Wolfpack were down five to the Tar Heels and four to the Cavaliers at home after 20 minutes.
Keatts’ team, though, had opened double-digit halftime leads in all 10 of its non-conference home wins. While it likely will not get that high, the spread and a Hokies squad likely sans Robinson makes N.C. State the pick.
Prediction: Pick: N.C. State -1.5
Half-Time Total Bet
This is a pick with the belief the Hokies will try to turn this game into a grind without Robinson, but also because N.C. State has the perimeter quickness to challenge Virginia Tech on the perimeter. After playing to 80-plus in its first two ACC home games, the Wolfpack did not get above 54 against Clemson and Virginia. It should go a little higher versus Virginia Tech, but 71.5 feels too far to touch.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 71.5 points