Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grab the Rolaids, we're playing Clemson

Virginia Tech Hokies (14-5, 4-1) vs.
No. 12 Clemson Tigers (17-2, 3-2)

Time: 7 p.m.
Date: Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009
Place: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va.

Last Meeting: Tech blew its chance at a possible NCAA-bid-sealing win in Clemson in the last game of the regular season...two free throws by Demontez Stitt with 3.8 seconds left gave the Tigers a 70-69 win...AD Vassallo led the Hokies with 23 points, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc...Tech committed 20 turnovers.

Trends: Every game between the Hokies and Tigers since Tech joined the ACC in the 2004-05 season has been decided by four points or fewer...five of the six games have been decided by two points or fewer...the Hokies have lost their last three games against the Tigers and are 2-4 against them since joining the ACC (1-3 in Blacksburg).

What to Expect: Tech Hoops, which is a much better blog than this one, has an in-depth preview of the Clemson game. Their preview also refers to Clemson as "starting out hotter than Casey Beamer...," which is deserving of a standing ovation.

If history is any indicator, this game will come down to the wire. And looking at the rosters for these two teams, I don't expect this game to be any different. The Hokies and Tigers are mirror images of each other in size and point production. Neither team starts a player taller than 6-9. Both have three main guys who score the basketball. Both have a guy who, when hot, can't miss from any spot on the floor. And both have interior players that produce points.

The difference is at point guard, where the Hokies are getting much better production out of Malcolm Delaney than the Tigers are out of Demontez Stitt. Delaney even has more assists and a slightly better assist-to-turnover ratio than Stitt (1.4 vs. 1.3).

The key to this game will be Delaney, who played very poorly the last time these two teams played. He was 1-for-7 from the floor and had one assist in 27 minutes. Hank Thorns didn't play very well either at point guard in that game. Improved point guard play and fewer turnovers I believe will lead to a Tech victory in this game.

Another match-up to watch is Jeff Allen against Trevor Booker down low. Assuming the two are guarding each other, it will be fun to watch. Booker leads the Tigers in scoring and rebounding and I think the two are evenly matched.

Hokies win if: Malcolm Delaney has a solid game, both scoring and taking care of the ball and the Hokies make their free throws down the stretch.

Tigers win if: Trevor Booker is a beast in the paint and Terrence Oglesby gets hot behind the arc.

Score: Virginia Tech 64, Clemson 63

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