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Previewing Virginia Tech

Scouting Report

Virginia Tech Offense 05-06Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%49.8147Turnover Rate16.54Off Reb Rate29.3259FTM/FGA24.0191
Dig that turnover rate...wow. Usually a team's conference-only numbers are worse than their full season numbers, but that isn't the case for Virginia Tech. Their in-conference TO% is 16.1%. In 11 league games, they have 65 fewer turnovers than their opponents. It happens to be the case that Virginia Tech is both good at avoiding turnovers and good at forcing them (see defensive factors below), thus the huge differential. In an average ACC game, Tech gets six extra possessions thanks to turnover margin. That can obviously make a big difference in an otherwise close game.

The players' turnover rates are impressive almost without exception. Dowdell: 13.6%. Collins: 11.1%. Gordon (the PG!): 16.8%. Witherspoon: 17.2%. Washington: 22.2%. Vassallo: 13.4%.

That's bad news, man. I keep thinking back to the Boston College game...the Eagles (also good at avoiding turnovers) only committed six. Of course, NC State won that game by 18, so it's not, you know, cripplingly bad news or anything.

Despite the low turnover rate, the Hokies have one of the worst offenses in the ACC. After all, it's shooting that matters the most, and the Hokies rank 9th in the ACC in eFG%. Tech's in-conference OR% ranks 11th in the ACC, just ahead of NC State.

And then there are free throws. In ACC games, Tech's FTM/FGA ratio is nearly identical to Clemson's, which is red flag-raiser is there ever was one. Those two teams are by themselves in the conference cellar in both FTA/FGA and FTM/FGA. The problem is, of the three Hokies who get to the line the most often--Dowdell, Collins, Gordon--none are shooting better than 70%. In fact, AD Vassallo is the only Hokie with an in-conference FT% over 71%, and he's only attempted six free throws.

NC State has made more free throws in ACC play than the Hokies have attempted.

Probable Starters (numbers are conference-only unless otherwise noted):

Jamon Gordon (6-3, 200) -- Among the league leaders in %Stls. Gordon is shooting 48.3% and doesn't appear to be much of an outside threat (30% from three on the season, 21% in-conference), but he is the only starter aside from Vassallo with an O Rtg above 100. Interestingly, Gordon has been the team's best rebounder in ACC play. His DR% (19.7%) ranks 8th in the conference.

Zabian Dowdell (6-3, 200) -- The team's offensive leader, Dowdell is Tech's highest-usage (25.3%) player. He's taking over 15 shots per ACC game, but his 45.5% effective field goal percentage makes him rather inefficient. He leads the Hokies in 3FGA, but is hitting just 30% (17-56) from behind the arc--down from his .359 season 3FG%. Like Gordon, Dowdell is great at stealing the ball.

Wynton Witherspoon (6-7, 185) -- Poor rebounder, crappy three-point shooter.

Deron Washington (6-7, 195) -- Modest 95.9 O Rtg in-conference. Not a primary scoring option, but he is shooting well by VPI standards.

AD Vassallo (6-6, 213) -- Has the best O Rtg (113.6) among the starters, and he's been taking a bigger role in Virginia Tech's offense as the conference season has progressed. Vassallo has the highest eFG% (56.6%) of the VPI regulars and his 17.0 pts/40 average is second only to Dowdell's 17.5 pts/40. Vassallo's rebounding numbers are modest, and like just about every other Hokie, he has a low TO%.

Bench:

Most of the bench's contributions will come from Coleman Collins (6-9, 235), Markus Sailes (6-5, 210) and Chris Tucker (6-7, 220). Of late, Collins has been relegated to sixth man, but he's averaging well over 30 min/game in conference play. One would think he'll have to play a lot in order to matchup with Cedric Simmons. Collins has been one of the team's most efficient players, though his in-conference rebounding numbers are disappointing.

Tucker has been getting about 11 MPG in-conference, Sailes about 18 MPG. Both have usages under 10%.

Virginia Tech Defense 05-06Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%48.0103Turnover Rate24.240Off Reb Rate33.0193FTA/FGA36.2176
Tech's in-conference defensive efficiency is 105.1--right around the league average, and comparable to Florida State's.

VPI's in-conference TO% forced is tops in the league. The Hokies' skill in this area is going to make their defense look good if NC State isn't careful.

My score predictor says...

NC State 77, Tech 68

(Caveat: Predictor, bless its heart, is unaware of Evtimov's injury.)