Preview: Virginia Tech

There’s a certain pleasure that comes with playing Virginia Tech. If UNC wins, it’s usually a good win and you get that “Man, what a good game,” warm and fuzzy feeling. If Carolina happens to lose, you still have to snicker because you just know that come March, Va. Tech will be sitting at home yet again due to its weak non-conference scheduling. C’mon, Hokies. Play somebody! You’d think after getting burned time and time again they would play someone decent before the ACC season. They depend on playing strong foes in conference to bolster their resume, and frankly that’s not happening this year. With that said, I hope the Heels beat them by 40. Just don’t like the Hokies for some reason. Punks.

  • Malcolm Delaney (right) is STILL there. Yes, Delaney, who was a unanimous first-team ACC pick in the preseason (and rightfully so), is still driving lanes and knockin’ down treys for the Hokies. Delaney is in the top five in the ACC in PPG, Assists, Steals and 3-pointers made. You also can’t put him on the line because he shoots 87 percent from there. To top this off, the Heels will also see a LOT of him. He plays almost the whole game, averaging 38 minutes per. With Carolina’s penchent for letting good guards score by the truckload, be prepared for a big game from Delaney. My guess would be that Strickland draws the assignment.
  • Despite VT’s roster being decimated by injuries – losing starter Dorenzo Hudson as well as big men J.T. Thompson and Cadarian Raines for the season – the Hokies have been very much in striking distance in the game they lost. VT lost to Purdue (currently ranked 8 ) at home in OT 58-55, and lost a nail-biter to Virginia 57-54. The play of Jeff Allen and Erik Green has increased dramatically. Their win over Penn State is looking better and better, considering PSU has now beaten Michigan State and Illinois in two straight games. And Va. Tech also knocked off the same Florida State team that just beat Duke last night, while playing zone defense the entire game.  This game will be no easy out.
  • Other than Delaney, there isn’t really another go-to scorer, but the Heels will need to continue to play with the high defensive pressure they’ve been playing with recently. VT usually scores in the fifties as long as the defense is OK. Though in the win over FSU, the Hokies put up 71 – and FSU is arguably the best defensive team in the ACC, just ask Duke. (Couldn’t resist)
  • The VT starters all average over 32 minutes per game, so the Heels should look to drive the hoop and create some foul trouble if possible.
  • Greenberg will have his boys ready for this game. In the story linked above, he’s quoted as saying UNC is “no doubt” a Top 25 team. This will be a Super Bowl of sorts for a team in need of a good win. The Heels should be used to it, but sometimes its hard to get the intensity up for an unranked opponent.

Basically the Heels need to come out ready to play, and clamp down on the Hokies from the start. With Delaney this team will always have the ability to come back in a hurry, so for a comfortable win UNC must put them away early in the second half and not let up. I’m thinking Roy knows very well that the Hokies are on a six-game winning streak and will have the Heels ready to play. This is the first big game in Chapel Hill since Kentucky, so I’m taking the home team. I know you’re surprised.

Prediction: UNC 71, Va. Tech 64