The Hokies and Tigers tip-off at noon Saturday in a NCAA Tournament bubble battle and SB Nation's Virginia Tech site, Gobbler Country (check out his game preview in the link), has us covered on Virginia Tech in this scouting report…
Us: It's been an topsy-turvy ride for Virginia Tech of late - how did the Hokies topple No. 1 Duke and then lose by 15 to Boston College at home on Senior Night?
Gobbler Country: Well, I think we lost to BC because we beat Duke. It looked like a classic let-down game with the Hokies coming out completely cold from the field and playing sloppy defense. Malcolm Delaney said after the game they didn't follow the scouting report by going underneath on screens for three-point shooters when they knew they couldn't do that. Plus, the game came 70 hours after an emotionally draining game against the top-ranked team in the country in which Tech used its bench for a total of seven minutes.
The Hokies have been inconsistent all year. It was almost a given they were going to lose to BC after beating Duke, but I didn't anticipate how big of an egg they were going to lay.
Us: The Hokies (19-9, 9-6 ACC) and Tigers (19-10, 8-7 ACC) are on a similar track when it comes to fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid. Is this a must-win for Virginia Tech's NCAA shot, and how deep a run in the ACC Tourney will they need with a win or loss to make it in?
GC: If they win, they'll likely have the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament. I think the only they'll have to do is not get beat by the No. 12 seed should the Deacs make their way to the quarterfinal. Of course, that's exactly what Tech did last year. Lose and they need to at least make the semifinals, which would include wins over likely Georgia Tech and Florida State.
Us: This is a battle of teams low on scholarship players - Virginia Tech with eight and Clemson with nine. How has Hokies coach Seth Greenberg handled having a shorter bench down the stretch?
GC: We've seen the bench minutes fluctuate. As long as Jeff Allen and Victor Davila stay out of foul trouble, the bench doesn't see much action. That's especially been true in big games. Against Duke, we had seven minutes from the bench. In the home game against Maryland, the bench played 20 minutes and contributed three points.
Recovering from Duke, early game Sat.
Us: Clemson fans are all too familiar with Hokies star guard Malcolm Delaney after he dropped 30 points on them last year up at Cassell Coliseum. Where is his game at coming into this one?
GC: He's been struggling with his shot lately, but a lot of it has had to do with the guy's who have been guarding him. Nolan Smith did a great job of forcing him into bad shots. Delaney's at his best in transition as far as getting to the basket and finding open shooters. In the half court he's been painful to watch at times this year. He needs help, though. Sometimes our guys don't move enough without the ball and get caught watching Delaney try to create his own shot. I've said it before with him, but you just have to take the good with the bad. Sure he's going to fire up some ill-advised shots, but for every one of those, there's shots like the dagger he made late in the Duke game.
Us: What are the keys to Virginia Tech grabbing the much-needed win and sending the Tigers to the NIT?
GC: The Hokies are the worst in the ACC in assist-to-FG ratio and when they've lost in conference play, that number has been way, way down. The Hokies have to have good ball movement, they have to get offensive rebounds from Allen and Delaney has to drive and get to the line in order for Tech to win. On defense, the perimeter defense has to be better. Tech has a tendency to leave guys open behind the arc and you can't do that on the road when teams are used to their gym and their rims.