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Virginia Tech (13-8, 4-3 ACC) vs. Virginia (11-8, 1-5 ACC)

Saturday, February 2, 2008, 1:00

TV: Raycom/Lincoln Financial (click here for listings)

Special Preview Items:

Game Preview Presented by:
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Game Preview:
Virginia Tech goes for a season sweep of in-state rival UVA when the teams meet in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies won the first meeting 70-69 in Charlottesville on a Deron Washington running layup in overtime, and the teams split their two games last season.

This is a game of two teams that have been moving in opposite directions. Virginia Tech comes into this game with a 13-8 mark overall, and a 4-3 record in conference play. That puts them by themselves at third in the ACC, half a game ahead of six other teams who have a 3-3 record. The Hokies have won five of their last seven games, including two impressive wins in a row over Boston College and Florida State.

Virginia, on the other hand, has dropped six of their last seven games, including three in a row. Two of the losses have come at home in overtime to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The Hoos are 11-8 overall and 1-5 in the ACC. They are the only ACC team with less than two conference wins.

The Hoos have struggled on the road recently, losing their last four games away from Charlottesville, three of them by double digits. They lost to Xavier 108-70, got beat at Duke 85-65, lost a tough one at Florida State 69-67, then recently lost to Maryland 85-75.

Virginia's starting lineup will look the same as it did the last time these two teams faced off.

UVA Probable Starting Lineup
Pos Player Ht Wt Year PPG RPG Assists
G Sean Singletary 6-0 185 Sr. 18.3 3.8 123
G Calvin Baker 6-2 186 r-So. 10.2 2.4 46
F Mamadi Diane 6-5 201 Jr. 12.6 4.5 26
F Adrian Joseph 6-7 201 Sr. 11.9 7.5 20
F Mike Scott 6-8 233 Fr. 6.1 6.1 5

UVA point guard Sean Singletary is the great equalizer for the Cavaliers. When he's on, he's as good as any point guard in the country. He is battling a hip pointer and was noticeably limping at times during the Maryland game on Wednesday, but he still managed to score 23 points and put a scare in the Terps towards the end.

Singletary has scored in double figures for 41 consecutive games. He is the type of player who can take over a game by himself. He scored 34 points against Virginia Tech in the first meeting, but the rest of the team combined to go just 12-of-42 from the field and 4-of-18 from three-point range. Adrian Joseph added 11 points in that game, but he was the only other Cavalier to score in double figures.

Singletary also grabbed 10 rebounds in that game, an amazing stat for a player who is generously listed at 6-0.

Tech must not allow Singletary to score that many points again, because it's not likely that everyone else will be completely off from the field. UVA has some very good complimentary players on the perimeter, and they are capable of knocking down a lot of outside shots.

Mamadi Diane is the second leading scorer on the team, adding 12.6 points per game. He is a 44.8% three-point shooter. UVA will start four perimeter players, and combined with Adrian Joseph (37.6%) and Calvin Baker (43.8%), they are very capable of getting hot from the outside. Perimeter defense will be the most important part of this game for Virginia Tech.

On the inside, things haven't been quite as good for UVA. They are missing post players Tunji Soroye and Laurynas Mikalauskas. As a result they've gone with a smaller lineup, while starting freshman Mike Scott on the inside. Scott is very athletic, but he's only a freshman. He's given Virginia solid play this year, but he can't do it all on his own.

Unfortunately for Scott, he doesn't have much help. The other regular on the inside has been Ryan Pettinella, a big body, but who lacks the skillset to play regularly in the ACC. He had two points, no rebounds and five fouls in the Hoos' most recent game at Maryland. He struggles against athletic post players, and doesn't match up particularly well with Jeff Allen or J.T. Thompson. Jerome Meyinsse should see some action on the inside as well.

Virginia's bench has been inconsistent, as well as banged up. The only reserve who has played in all 19 games for the Cavs is Jeff Jones, who actually started the first 13 games before being benched for ineffectiveness.

Let's see how the teams compare statistically.

VT vs. UVA (ACC Games Only)


Stat ACC Rank Stat ACC Rank
FG% 41.10% 12 41.20% 11 UVA
FG% Defense 43.20% 3 45.10% 8 VT
3-Pt. % 27.90% 12 33.10% 7 UVA
3-Pt. % Defense 36.60% 8 33.60% 6 UVA
FT % 69.10% 9 71.30% 6 UVA
Rebounding Margin +5.9 2 +0.2 4 VT
Turnover Margin -2.71 11 0.00 6 UVA
Assist/TO Ratio 0.63 12 0.91 6 UVA
Scoring Offense 73.7 8 73.7 8 Even
Scoring Defense 75.3 2 78.2 10 VT
Average -- 7.9 -- 7.2 UVA

What's interesting is that Virginia is considered an offensive juggernaut compared to the Hokies, but since ACC play began both teams are averaging the same amount of points and the field goal percentages are basically equal. The main advantage the Hoos have over the Hokies is three-point shooting. UVA has four quality outside shooters in their starting lineup, while Tech has just A.D. Vassallo and Malcolm Delaney.

Virginia is fourth in rebounding margin, but that margin is just +0.2 per game. Still, that's very solid considering their lack of inside players this year. Unfortunately for UVA they are going up against the #2 rebounding team in the ACC in Virginia Tech. Tech out-rebounded UVA 47-39 in their first meeting. The Hokies have out-rebounded every single ACC foe they've faced this year. This is a battle within the overall war that Virginia Tech should win.

Turnovers will also be very important. Tech has won two games in a row. They broke even in turnovers with Boston College, and they were +5 against Florida State. Even though they are near the bottom in the stats, they have shown signs of improvement in their last two games. They were -1 in turnovers in their first meeting with UVA.

Throw the records out the window in this one. UVA isn't a great team by any stretch, but they are also a couple of shots away from being 3-3 in the ACC. They can still turn their season around, and what better place to do it than on the home court of your in-state rival?

Still, if this game comes down to the wire, you've got to like Virginia Tech's chances. The Hokies struggled in close games out-of-conference, but that experience made them ready for conference play. They are 2-0 in overtime games, both games coming on the road at Virginia and Boston College. They also squeaked out a one-point win at home against Maryland.

Virginia has struggled in close games. They are the opposite of the Hokies, having lost two home overtime games. They also lost to Florida State on the road by two, despite holding a second half lead.

This game should be fun to watch. If the Hokies win, they'll go to 5-3 in the ACC and will still be sitting alone in third place. A win would put them in a strong position to make the NIT or CBI at the end of the season, and they'd also warrant some NCAA tournament bubble consideration.