Saturday night features an ACC heavyweight contest as the No. 8 Virginia Cavaliers (11-2) square off with the No. 20 Virginia Tech Hokies (12-3). Virginia currently ranks first in the ACC while the Hokies come in third. Virginia Tech will host this one from Cassell Coliseum, with tipoff scheduled for 6 pm ET.
Since losing to Gonzaga the day after Christmas, Virginia has won seven straight contests, including an 81-58 win over Syracuse on Monday. Sam Hauser and Jay Huff led the way with 21 points apiece and combined for 19 rebounds in the victory. They will look to make it eight in a row as they travel to Virginia Tech.
Speaking of the Hokies, they have won four of their last five. Their lone loss in that span was a 78-60 road loss to Syracuse.
They bounced back on Wednesday, though, beating Notre Dame 62-51. At 6-2 in the conference, they will look to take down the top-seeded Cavaliers, who are currently 7-0 in the ACC.
Despite playing on the road, Virginia is the favorite in this one. They are -230 to win while Virginia Tech’s moneyline sits at +190. The spread features the Hokies +5.5, while the over/under for total points is 123.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, these two teams are pretty similar. Virginia ranks 110th in the nation in scoring, averaging 73.4 points. Virginia Tech ranks 136th, averaging 72.5 points (although they have averaged just 62 over their last three).
Defensively, Virginia has been one of the best teams in the country. They currently rank 5th in scoring defense, allowing just 59.5 points per game. Virginia Tech ranks 45th, allowing an average of 64.7 points per game.
Cavaliers Look To Stay Perfect In ACC
Except for an early-season blip against San Francisco and a beatdown from the top-ranked team in the country, Virginia has played every bit as well as their Top 10 ranking. They will look to keep it rolling as they travel to the Cassell Coliseum to take on the Hokies.
Leading the way for the Cavaliers are senior forwards Hauser and Huff. After transferring in this offseason, senior forward Hauser has been as advertised. He leads the team in scoring (15 points) and rebounds (7.4).
Huff is not to be outdone, though. He is averaging 13.8 points per game with 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Between the two, they make for matchup nightmares for any opposing defense.
Other contributors include Trey Murphy III (10.8 points, three rebounds), Kihei Clark (9.7 points, 4.5 assists) and Casey Morsell (6.9 points, 1.9 rebounds).
Hokies Hope For Signature Win Over Rival Cavaliers
The Virginia Tech Hokies have had an excellent start to the season, shown by their 12-3 record overall and 6-2 conference record. Still, hoping to get a favorable seed in the NCAA tournament, a signature win over their interstate rivals would be huge.
Unfortunately, the Hokies are a little shorthanded. Their second-leading scorer, Tyrece Radford (11.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists), was recently suspended for a DUI and weapons possession.
Furthermore, guard Cartier Diarra is out for personal reasons, and Cordell Pemsl is questionable with a back injury (although neither of these two play quite as significant of a role). While they could manage without them against Notre Dame earlier in the week, Virginia is a lot better than the Irish.
Even in Radford’s absence, the Hokies have three starters averaging double digits. Keve Aluma (13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks), Nahiem Alleyne (10.8 points) and Jalen Cone (10.3 points) have all had nice seasons.
Taking Virginia To Win And Cover
It is already a challenging task to take down Virginia, given that they can beat you on both ends of the floor. It is even tougher when you are a bit shorthanded.
While Virginia Tech has the talent to pull off an upset, Virginia has just been playing too well as of late. I think it could be close for the first half, but I ultimately see Virginia pulling away and covering the 5.5-point spread.