Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup slotted into the at-large bids in ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA Tournament projections. Virginia Tech comes in pegged as a No. 10 seed, while Louisville enters as a No.11 seed and one of the last four teams into the Big Dance.
Cardinals hanging onto NCAA Tournament hopes
The Cardinals hurt their NCAA Tournament chances by coming up empty in back-to-back games against North Carolina and Duke. Louisville was trounced by the Blue Devils on Wednesday, falling on the road in Cameron Indoor Stadium 82-56. Ray Spalding finished with a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds on the night, while Deng Adel and VJ King chipped in 10 points apiece for the Cardinals, but it wasn’t enough to avoid their second straight double-digit defeat.
Louisville enters the weekend scoring 106.6 points per 100 possessions during conference play (8th in the ACC), while allowing 101.4 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end of the floor (5th in the ACC).
Offensively, Louisville relies on getting the ball in the painted area and getting to the charity stripe at a high rate. Approximately 70 percent of Louisville’s total points have come from either inside the arc or at the free throw line during conference play this year.
On the other end of the floor, the Cardinals do a good job of forcing turnovers, but the team has struggled limiting second chance opportunities on the offensive glass, despite being one of the tallest teams in the entire country.
Opposing teams have turned the ball over on 19.7 percent of their possessions against the Cardinals’ defense (2nd in the ACC) during conference play, which has helped their limit their opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 48.3 percent (4th in the ACC).
Louisville ranks 15th in the nation in average height at 78.4”, but David Padgett’s squad has allowed their conference opponents to sport an offensive rebounding rate of 31.4 percent (11th in the ACC) during league play this year.
Hokies putting together strong stretch run
Virginia Tech won for the fourth time in five games on Wednesday night, defeating Clemson at home 65-58. The Hokies used a balanced scoring attack to overcome a big night from Tigers’ guard Marcquise Reed, who finished with a game-high 28 points. Justin Robinson and Kerry Blackshear scored 14 points apiece as the only two Hokies to finish in double-figures scoring on the night, but Virginia Tech enjoyed a 25-10 advantage at the free throw line and turned the ball over just five times on the night to improve to 9-6 in conference play this season.
The Hokies come into Saturday’s matchup scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions during ACC play, while sporting the top two-point percentage in the conference at 54.6 percent.
Despite their gaudy numbers from inside the arc, Buzz Williams’ squad does a lot of their damage from beyond the three-point line. During conference play, the Hokies have taken 42.0 percent of their total field goal attempts from three-point range (4th in the ACC), connecting on 36.6 percent of those three-point attempts (9th in the ACC).
The Hokies are disciplined with the basketball on offense, but they aren’t afraid to share the sugar either. Virginia Tech enters the weekend turning the ball over on only 16.0 percent of their offensive possessions (3rd in the ACC), but they’ve also assisted on 58.0 percent of their total made baskets during league play (3rd in the ACC).
- Cardinals are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Cardinals are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Hokies are 27-11-1 ATS in their last 39 home games.
- Hokies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Atlantic Coast.
The Hokies come in playing some of their best basketball of the season. Virginia Tech has won seven of their last nine games and will likely need to pull off at least one more regular season win to secure an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Louisville, meanwhile, can ill afford another loss if they want to get into the Big Dance, so this will be a big game for both teams. Virginia Tech is giving up some size inside and they don’t crash the glass on the offensive end particularly well, but I’m still rolling with them to cover the spread at home in this ACC matchup. The Cardinals’ offense has been unimpressive recently and their last Quadrant 1 win came over a month ago. Take the Hokies to cover the number at home in what should be a hotly-contested ACC showdown on Saturday afternoon.