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ACC Season Preview Part 5: Virginia & Virginia Tech

This is part five of a five part series which will preview the ACC basketball season three teams at a time. I decided to mix things up and am saving a very in-depth Wake Forest preview for Thursday and my initial ACC Power Rankings will be released on Friday.


Check out the previews for BC, Clemson and Duke here.

Check out the previews for Florida State, Georgia Tech and Maryland here.

Check out the previews for Miami, North Carolina and NC State here.

Check out the previews for Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse here.

Virginia: 2012-2013  (23-12, 11-7 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 105.1
Defensive Rating: 91.7
Key Returning Players: Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell and Justin Anderson
Key Additions: Anthony Gill (transfer)

Key Losses: Paul Jespersson
% Scoring Returned: 85%
% Minutes Returned: 71%
%Rebounds Returned: 75%

The ladies love Tony Bennett's (pack-line) D. Tony Bennett is stuntin' like his daddy with that pack-line defense. Tony's father, Dick Bennett, invented the pack-line defense nearly 30 years ago and it has allowed Virginia to have top 25 defenses in each of the past two seasons. Despite going 21-11 last season, including 11-7 in the ACC, Virginia was (in my opinion, wrongfully) left out of the NCAA Tournament field. Tony Bennett and his squad were able to do this despite losing their best player from the previous year's team and 1st team All-ACC member in Mike Scott. Now Tony Bennett has a team that returns 85% of their scoring and looks poised to return to the NCAA Tournament.

When talking about Virginia, you simply must talk about star guard Joe Harris, who averaged 16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game as a junior last season. He is s sharpshooter who shoots 43% from beyond the arc and 50% from insider the arc, which is good for an eFG% of 56.2%. Not surprisingly, his performance as a junior was recognized by the media and he was named 1st-team All-ACC. Harris was also named pre-season 1st-team All-ACC at ACC Operation Basketball.

A staple of the pack-line defense is being able to rebound the ball extremely well and Akil Mitchell helps them do just that. Mitchell was the 25th best defensive rebounder in terms of defensive rebounding% last season, which is absolutely critical to their defensive scheme. I anticipate former 4-star recruit Justin Anderson will continue to develop and don't overlook the fact that South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill is now eligible to play for the Wahoos. Gill averaged nearly 8 points and 5 rebounds per game as a freshman for the Gamecocks. This team will be in every game and have an outside shot at finishing first in the league. This team will most definitely be going dancing again come March.

Virginia Tech: 2012-2013  (13-19, 4-14 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 105.3
Defensive Rating: 105.3
Key Returning Players: Jarell Eddie and C.J. Barksdale
Key Additions: None

Key Losses: Erick Green

% Scoring Returned: 52%
% Minutes Returned: 69%
%Rebounds Returned: 72%

It really can't be overstated just how valuable 2012-2013 ACC Player of the Year Erick Green was to Virginia Tech. Last season Green played 36 minutes per game, averaging 25 points, 4 rebounds and nearly 4 assists. He did all of this in an extremely efficient manner despite having one of the highest usage rates in the country and really no other teammates to attract the attention of opposing defenses. Despite all of this, the Hokies still went 13-19 overall, including a dismal 4-14 ACC season.

This season the Hokies will have to look to senior forward Jarell Eddie. Last season Eddie averaged 12 points and nearly 6 rebounds per contest. Eddie shot nearly five 3 pointers per game despite shooting just 31% from beyond the arc. I can't imagine his percentage will increase that much this season considering the defense will now be focusing on him instead of Erick Green. Eddie does have a strong rebounding rate and block rate, but a team just can only be but so competitive in the ACC if Jarrel Eddie is their best player.

Overall, this season just does not look promising for Virginia Tech. According to KenPom, the Hokies will only be favored in one of their ACC contests, which is their home game against Clemson in which they have an overwhelming 50% chance to win. I fully anticipate this team will finish last in the conference.

That concludes the 5 part series previewing the ACC. Look for a very in-depth preview of Wake Forest coming out this Thursday and my initial ACC Power Rankings. will be released Friday in time for the start of the college basketball season.