Virginia Tech Hokies
Record: 18-12 (9-7, 4th place ACC)
Key Wins: UNC Asheville, Maryland (2), Wake Forest
Key Losses: @ Old Dominion, @ Richmond, @ Penn St, @ NC State
NCAA Tournament Status: Bubble
Strengths: Virginia Tech is a versatile team. Every player can play multiple positions, allowing them to matchup defensively against most any team. AD Vassallo is the Hokies’ clear go-to guy throughout ballgames, as he shoots the ball well, but also has the ability to take the ball to the basket. As a squad, VT also plays solid defense, causing teams to turn the ball over and make careless mistakes. This allows them to get out and run in transition, which is where the Hokies are the most effective offensively. Senior Deron Washington is one of the nation’s best finishers, and he has the ability to really fire up the crowd (and his team) as a result.Weaknesses: Inexperience. The Hokies play six freshmen on a regular basis, including Malcolm Delaney and Hank Thorns who share the point guard position. Therefore, Tech is prone to go for long periods of time without scoring or getting into their offense and also have mental lapses defensively. Vassallo and Delaney are really the only consistent shooters on this team, and freshman Jeff Allen the only real scoring threat in the post. This leads to some bad shots in the halfcourt set at times. As a unit, the Hokies are not a great free-throw shooting team (68%) and have trouble focusing for forty minutes.
Key Player: While Vassallo and Washington lead this team, and Jeff Allen is the best post player, the combination of Delaney and Thorns are definitely the key for Seth Greenberg’s Hokies. Delaney, a talented combo guard, brings accurate shooting and size to the 1-spot. Thorns, a 5-9 freshman, brings speed and energy, as well as terrific ball-handling and on-the-ball defensive pressure. Together, they are charged with getting the Hokies into their offense and making good decisions.
X-Factor: Freshman J.T. Thompson has come on during ACC play, frequently as a starter at the 4-spot. He can guard either forward position and has strong moves down low, despite standing only 6-6. While not counted on for a lot of points, he can raise his game when needed and score enough to complement the Hokies’ big guns.
Style of Play: The Hokies play best when a game is sloppy. As a team, they will turn the ball over a good bit (15/game), so they must turn up the defensive intensity enough to force their opponents to do likewise. VT does play zone occasionally, a 2-3 look that challenges the opponent to make shots from downtown. Because of their interchangeable parts, Virginia Tech is able to slide guys over to fill different roles (Delaney from distributing at the 1 to being a scorer at the 2) and not lose any talent.
Why Virginia Tech Will Win: Being too young to know any better
Why Virginia Tech Will Lose: Being too young to know how to win
Tournament Prediction: Virginia Tech still has some work to do to make the NCAA Tournament. Two wins in the ACC Tournament might get it done. Should the Hokies make the Big Dance, they will be a double-digit seed and should see a first-round exit. Honestly, an NIT berth might be better for VT, as gaining post-season experience over the course of a few games would prove beneficial in the long-run.