We all know by now that Wake Forest upset Louisville on Wednesday night and got the big win that they needed. If the Deacs can win tomorrow they will put themselves in a position where beating Boston College on Tuesday in the ACC Tournament would likely be enough to secure the first NCAA Tournament bid since 2010.
Virginia Tech will host Wake Forest at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, VA. The game will either be on WatchESPN, or your local ACC affiliate if you reside within the “ACC Footprint”.
The win on Wednesday has taken a bit of pressure off of this game, but make no mistake, this is a big one too.
The Virginia Tech Hokies (21-8, 10-7) are safely in the NCAAT field, and winners of five out of their last six games. Wake Forest (17-12, 8-9) need this game much more than the Hokies do to further their tournament resume.
Despite losing So. PF Chris Clarke to an ACL tear in the Virginia win on February 12th, the Hokies have continued a high level of play, losing only to Louisville (and only by four) since that injury.
They are led by seniors Zach LeDay and Seth Allen, both of whom, come off the bench. The duo still sees plenty of time on the court, but it is certainly an interesting strategy for Buzz Williams.
The game plan for Wake Forest will once again be pound the rock inside early and often to John Collins. Freshman Khadim Sy cannot guard him, and it’s a good chance to get an early lead before LeDay gets in there.
Another player to keep an eye on is junior Ty Outlaw. A pretty big afterthought until the Clarke injury, Outlaw has gone on a ridiculous tear as of late, making 20 out of his last 26 three point attempts over the last four games, including 8-10 against Miami (a school record for threes in a game).
Overall, this game looks like a pretty good matchup for Wake Forest. Virginia Tech is one of the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers, and usually when Wake wins the turnover battle they win the game.
Their offense is freakishly efficient though, ranking 24th overall, and they shoot 41% from 3 (6th nationally), and 55% from 2’s (23rd nationally). It will be interesting to see whether or not the consistent man-to-man defense that Wake Forest showed on Wednesday will translate to this game. They need a hand in the face of every shooter and cannot have a lot of defensive lapses.
This game should be pretty fun to watch, as both teams are very good on offense and suspect (by ACC standards) on the defensive side of the ball. KenPom has the Hokies winning 84-82 on a 71 possession game, which is really high considering neither team forces a lot fo turnovers, so there aren’t a lot of transition points.
If you like watching good ball movement within half-court offensive sets then this is probably the game for you.
It’s probably getting tiring to hear by now (ok, I know it’s not), but I have no idea what the Hokies are going to do about John Collins. Virginia Tech isn’t very good at offensive rebounding, so there will be a heavier reliance on making shots than there normally is, and Wake Forest also doesn’t get a whole lot of transition points to begin with, so getting back doesn’t really help them either.
I expect another big game from Collins inside, and see no reason that his 20 pt/10 rebound streak would end.
I think this game will likely come down to the wire, and whoever has the ball last stands a great chance of winning the game.