Heel Tough Blog: Virginia Tech Preview
Carolina is on the road tonight, as they try to stop a 4 game losing streak against Virginia Tech. The last time we saw the Tar Heels they lost 66-52 at Pittsburgh, in a game where we saw Carolina's effort in question. For the first time since 2004 the program finds itself under .500, in a season that can't appear to end soon enough. Cole Anthony is still on track to return sometime soon, but as of Monday he had failed to practice, a requirement to play for Roy Williams upon returning from injury. The hope is that the eventual return of Anthony, will give this team a boost as their season is on life support in January.
Virginia Tech has been a pleasant surprise in a down ACC. In their first year under former Wofford coach Mike Young, the Hokies own a 13-5 ( 4-3 ) mark, and are on track to make it back to the NCAA tournament a year after making the Sweet 16. Landers Nolley II leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.8 points a game. The guard can score in a variety of ways, as he's a 38% three point shooter, while converting 78% of his foul shots. Like his Wofford teams, Virginia Tech won't be afraid to hoist up a lot of three pointers, as they lead the league in made triples per game, while shooting 37.4% as a team from deep. Nolley II is their only player that averages double figures, but have a plethora of guys capable of getting hot, and filling up the scoresheet in addition to Nolley II.
Carolina has failed to capitalize on the easier part of their schedule, and now face a uphill climb to get into the NCAA tournament. The Pittsburgh made you feel bad because whatever small improvements you felt the team made in the home losses to Pittsburgh and Clemson, felt wasted after the road game against the Panthers. At 8-9 ( 1-5 ) this is the last gap for this team to save its season, it has start with finding a way to win to in Blacksburg. 3 keys to beating the upstart Hokies:
1. Multiple Defense: You saw this a lot in the second half which is very unusual for a Roy Williams coached team. At this point though, they don't have a choice, as Carolina has struggled mightily to guard the basketball on the perimeter. When in fact they trap, they need to do it successfully. When they press it needs to be effective. When they go zone, they need to force Virginia Tech into bad shots. As bad as the team has team been offensively, the key to winning for this team starts with being better on the defensive end of the floor, and it starts with being good in multiple defenses.
2. Free Throws: Missed foul shots came back to haunt the Tar Heels in the loss at Pittsburgh, going 10-21, and failing to convert with the clock stopped. The ball needs to go inside, as there will be a size advantage in the post. When Brooks and Bacot get fouled though, they need to be counted on to convert on the freebies. Missed free throws, basically equal a turnover, and this team can't afford to have any more of those.
3. Improved Play from Leaky Black: If there has been a player that's been the most disappointing it's the second year guard/forward. Black was being counted on as being a guy that can do everything on the floor, and he's struggled to live up to that billing. While scoring isn't the strength of his, he needs to start converting on the offensive end. He's been heralded as a great on ball defender, but has struggled to stay in front of the ball all season long. While he's been put in a tough situation, he needs to start playing the way his talent can allow him to play.
Series History: Carolina is 68-14 against the Hokies, including 15-4 since they joined the ACC. The Tar Heels have won 8 of the last 9, including last years 103-82 win last year in Chapel Hill.
UNC - 93rd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 104.3 ( 117th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.9 ( 90th )
Virginia Tech - 56th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.0 ( 53rd ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 95.4 ( 74th )
TV Info: ACC Network will be televising the matchup with the Hokies, with a tip time scheduled for 8 pm.
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