Virginia Tech-USF Preview
UNCASVILLE, Conn. - After a thrilling overtime victory over No. 3 Villanova on Saturday night, Virginia Tech flipped the script to its next opponent, USF.
The Hokies and Bulls meet for the first time since since 1994, back when both schools were Metro Conference members. USF posts a 1-1 record so far in 2020-21 with a win over Florida College and a loss to Rhode Island on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun.
Senior guard David Collins has led the way so far for USF, scoring 33 points through two games, including 16 against URI. Three other Bulls scored in double figures against Rhode Island - Caleb Murphy (15), Alexis Yetna (10) and Michael Durr (10).
Brian Gregory is in his fourth season at the helm of the Bulls and posted a 14-17 record in 2019-20. He previously coached at Georgia Tech and Dayton and has faced Mike Young three times in his career, posting a 3-0 record.
The question looming over the Hokies after such a big win on Saturday: can they come ready to play again 24 hours later?
USF Key to the Game: Limit the Three
Per Ken Pomeroy’s kenpom.com, Virginia Tech ranks 17th in the country in three-point percentage. The Hokies have been very efficient, shooting 42% from behind the arc against Radford and 50% against Villanova.
Nahiem Alleyne (6-10) and Hunter Cattoor (5-8) have lit up the scoreboard from deep, while Wabissa Bede (3-5), Keve Aluma (4-6) and Justyn Mutts (2-4) have all contributed when needed.
The Bulls have allowed opponents to shoot just 23.5% from three through two games. To beat the Hokies, they’ll have to limit Tech to a similar number.
Virginia Tech Key to the Game: Win the Rebounding Battle
Tech ranked 340th in offensive rebounding percentage in Young’s inaugural season. As a result, Young made sure to find size, along with experience, on the recruiting trail and in the transfer portal this offseason.
Though Radford grabbed three more rebounds (33-30) than Tech did in the season opener, the Hokies responded with a phenomenal rebounding effort against Villanova, outrebounding the Wildcats by nine (40-31). A big chunk of that can be credited to 6’1” Tyrece Radford, who grabbed 13 boards.
The Bulls have size - two seven-footers and 6’8” Prince Oduro - and are a pretty solid rebounding team, particularly on the offensive end. USF pulled down 16 offensive boards in the loss to Rhode Island and outrebounded the Rams 39-32.
If Tech wants to head back to Blacksburg with a 2-0 record at the Mohegan Sun, outrebounding USF is at the top of the “to do list.”
Prediction: Virginia Tech 77, USF 66
Virginia Tech (2-0) vs. USF (1-1)
Tipoff: 8 p.m.
Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament
Location: The Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics