Home Court Advantage for Virginia Tech vs In-State Rival Virginia

Rainman M.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 2:17 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 2:17 PM UTC

Virginia Tech (11-3) hosts hated No. 8 Virginia (12-1) tonight at 9 ET. The visiting Wahoos are favored by 2. The Hokies return all 5 starters from last season. But their two leading scorers departed. 

Virginia Cavaliers vs Virginia Tech Hokies

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Free NCAAB Pick: Virginia Tech +2Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Last season, VT beat Virginia rather despite point guard Justin Robinson than because of him. But this season, Robinson is a more effective ball-distributor and scorer. He ranks 66th in assist rate and 391st in three-point completion.

Robinson is one of four Hokies averaging at least 40% from three, along with shooting guard Ahmed Hill, small forward Justin Bibbs and power forward Nickell Alexander-Walker.

Hill and Bibbs are versatile and rank, along with center Kerry Blackshear, in the top-100 in two-point completion. Power forward Chris Clarke exemplifies the versatility of VT’s big men. He can score inside, ranking 206th in two-point completion, but also pass effectively, ranking 321st in assist rate.

So defenders are in trouble if they focus too much on Clarke, or other effective inside scorers who can kick the ball behind the arc. Clarke and Blackshear are also excellent defensive rebounders, which is important to igniting VT’s up-tempo, transition offense.

The Cavs return three starters, but miss their point guard from last season as well as two meaningful contributors who transferred.

UVA scrambled to acquire Rutgers transfer Nigel Johnson in order to fill out its backcourt. He has disappointed offensively. UVA is relying increasingly on Kyle Guy at point and Ty Jerome at shooting guard. Jerome is coming off his best performance of the season in which he scored more than half of UVA’s points, 31, against Boston College. He is 11-for-14 from three in his past three games. Guy deservedly leads UVA in percentage of shots taken. He is lethal at creating his own shots and shooting off the dribble. He ranks 120th in three-point completion percentage. The very ball-secure small forward Devon Hall, like Jerome and Guy, averages over 43% from three.

Virginia’s top-ranked defense boasts three big men who rank in the top-310 in blocking percentage, led by power forward Isaiah Wilkins, who ranks 94th. Wilkins is Virginia’s most effective scorer inside and, along with three other Cavs, Guy, Jerome, and Johnson, ranks in the top-400 in steal percentage.

The Verdict

VT is in a great betting spot, having covered the last four home games against Virginia and won the past two. VT has covered its last three home conference openers, winning its last two as underdog. The Hokies also have the urgency of bouncing back after an abysmal shooting performance in order to avoid starting conference play 0-2. Home court has been decisive for them, where they are 5-0 ATS this season.

The Hokies’ recent success vs Virginia is reflective of how coach Buzz Williams’ recruiting philosophy is effective against Virginia’s pack-line style of defense. In order to score against Virginia a team needs to create plays off the dribble and drain jump shots. VT ranks 33rd in assist-to-field goal ratio thanks to effective distributors like Robinson and Clarke. Virginia’s defense hopes to force its opponent to shoot contested threes, ranking 310th in the ratio of three pointers allowed to field goals allowed. But VT ranks 5th in three-point completion.

The improved Robinson should play better in this year’s rivalry game and help his team upset Virginia in an electric atmosphere on our NCAAB Picks.

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