Virginia Tech Hokies (17-11, 7-7) vs.
No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels (25-3, 11-3)
Time: 7 p.m.
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Place: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va.
Last Meeting: Tyler Hansbrough's baseline jumper with a second to play was the difference in a 68-66 win for North Carolina in the semifinals of the 2008 ACC tournament in Charlotte...the Hokies played tough defense throughout the game, but were unable to hold on to a seven-point lead with six minutes to play.
Trends: The Hokies have lost four of their last five and five of their last eight games...UNC has won 11 of its last 12 games...Tech is 9-25 against AP ranked teams under Seth Greenberg.
What to Expect: The Hokies have not been good at starting games this entire season. In order to have a chance against the Tar Heels, they will need to start well, like they did against No. 1 Wake Forest earlier this year.
The Tar Heels face Duke this weekend and I expect UNC to at least have Duke in the back of their minds to start off the game. The Hokies better take advantage of this or it could get real ugly, real quick.
UNC has been without its best shut-down defender in Marcus Ginyard and several of the ACC's top guards have been able to have big games against the Tar Heels. If Tech wants to pull off the upset, Malcolm Delaney needs to have a huge game. However, Delaney is not at 100 percent, according to Coach Greenberg during Monday's Labatt Hokie Hotline.
I expect the Tar Heels to be at their best when in transition with Ty Lawson. Therefore, the Hokies need to have the same type of game they had against the Deacs. Tech was able to minimalize Wake's transition offense and Jeff Teague by taking quality shots and not letting Teague run the fast break.
Tech is not going to win the battle on the boards against college basketball's Tim Tebow and company. The key will be taking advantage of whatever second chances it gets with offensive rebounds because they will be few and far between.
As much as I want Tech to keep this game close and win it, I just don't see it happening. UNC is just too good. I expect the same type of game we saw over the weekend against Duke. UNC will keep Tech at arms length most of the game (eight to 10 points) and Tech may make a run late to make the final score close.
If Tech loses this game and beats FSU this weekend, it will have the same resume it had going into last year's NCAA Tournament. A loss on Wednesday means the Hokies will need another marquee win in the ACC tournament in order to be safe on selection Sunday. The Hokies would also have to hope teams that are out of The Tournament don't win automatic bids.
Hokies win if: UNC completely over-looks them and they are able to contain UNC's fast break.
Heels win if: It takes care of business and dominates the boards as expected.
Final Score: North Carolina 80, Virginia Tech 72