Short-Handed Hurricanes Will Fizzle Out at Virginia Tech

Matthew Jordan

Friday, February 2, 2018 2:23 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 2:23 PM UTC

The Miami Hurricanes have been shaky on the road this season as they venture to Blacksburg, always a tough place for them to win, on Saturday afternoon to face Virginia Tech.

Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech HokiesFree NCAAB Pick: Virginia TechBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s a 2 p.m. ET tip from Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg with ESPN telecasting this ACC matchup, and it’s the first meeting of the season between these football-first schools. They close the regular season against one another on March 3 in south Florida, which could have big ramifications for seeding in the ACC Tournament. The top four teams in the regular-season standings get a double-bye. Miami and Virginia Tech are currently tied for fourth with NC State.

Last season, the Canes and Hokies split. UM won the first, 74-68 at home. It never trailed after halftime and went on an 18-2 run midway through second half to take a 65-49 lead. The Hurricanes won for the seventh time in the past eight meetings between the two teams. However, Virginia Tech won at home a couple of weeks later, 66-61. Tech guard Ty Outlaw had the game of his career with 24 points and a school-record eight 3-pointers; he is out this season after tearing his ACL this summer.

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— Canes Hoops (@CanesHoops) February 1, 2018

A Brownout In Miami

This was supposed to be perhaps the most talented Miami team yet as Coach Jim Larranaga brought in the school’s best-ever recruiting class – led by Lonnie Walker -- and star guard Bruce Brown Jr. opted to return for his sophomore year instead of declaring for the NBA Draft, in which he would have been a first-round pick.

That’s not to say the Canes (16-5 SU, 5-4 ACC, 8-8 ATS) have been a disappointment, but they are unranked after being as high as No. 6, aren’t going to contend for the ACC regular-season title and are just 6-5 in their past 11 games. UM also doesn’t have a truly signature win – Florida State and Louisville would be the two best and neither is currently ranked.

Some bad news this week as Brown is likely six weeks following surgery on his left foot Thursday. That means he could miss the rest of the regular season and the ACC Tournament. The first round of the NCAA Tournament is six weeks away. Brown is second on the team in scoring at 11.4 ppg but leads in rebounding at 7.1 (second-most among ACC guards), assists (4.0) and steals (1.3). He’s also a terrific defender.

UM did win its first game without him, 69-57 at home vs. Pittsburgh on Wednesday, but the Pitt program is a mess as the Panthers have lost 14 straight ACC regular-season games. Freshman Chris Lykes played a season-high 33 minutes in Brown’s place and had 13 points and five assists. Walker led the team with 16 points and had a crucial 3-pointer from about Fort Lauderdale as Pitt was rallying (see tweet video above).

Virginia Tech (16-6 SU, 5-4 ACC, 11-7 ATS) would be an NCAA Tournament bubble team right now with an RPI of 62 – ESPN’s bracketology has the Hokies among the “last four in.” Half of Tech’s wins are over teams at 150 or worse on the RPI. Their best victory was on Jan. 22 against then-No. 10 North Carolina, but that doesn’t look as good now with the Heels sliding.

The Hokies do enter on a three-game winning streak following an 85-80 overtime victory at Boston College on Wednesday. That was almost a horrible loss as Virginia Tech blew a seven-point lead with 1:04 left in regulation. BC’s potential winner at the buzzer rimmed out. Kerry Blackshear Jr. led the Hokies with 20 points. Justin Robinson had 10 points and a career-high 12 assists, a school record in ACC play.

This should be a defensive battle with Miami ranked 13th in defensive efficiency at (93.7 points per 100 possessions) and Virginia Tech 58th (99.9 pp/100). Miami is just 1-4 ATS in its past five trips to Blacksburg. Without Brown, make it 1-5 ATS. Take Tech on your Saturday NCAAB pick.

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