Their initial contest was anything but easy as the Hokies survived a scare against Notre Dame by squeaking out a three-point win. They now come in as a +2.5 underdog against North Carolina State, shaping up to be an intriguing clash of styles. While it may have been ugly in their first-round matchup, my prediction for Virginia Tech Vs. North Carolina State is that the Hokies bounce back and cruise to victory for another potential deep run.
Virginia Tech Vs. North Carolina State Prediction
It’s hard for the Hokies to play as bad as they did in their initial contest against the Fighting Irish, failing to eclipse 70 points against one of the worst defenses in the nation. In fact, there was a moment where it looked like their sleeper hopes were all but gone as Notre Dame held a lead late. Still, it’s “survive and advance” and that is exactly what Virginia Tech did. They cannot afford to repeat the same performance as North Carolina State poses as a far greater defensive challenge.
Ranked 83rd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom, North Carolina State plays a respectable defense on multiple levels. They have a big man in DJ Burns Jr who anchors the paint and uses his 275lb wide frame to negate back down pressure from opposing big men. While Virginia Tech does not possess the size to match up against Burns’ frame, they do throw two productive scoring big men to keep him reeling.
Grant Basile and Justyn Mutts combine for 29.4 points per game, nearly 40% of their team scoring average. They both play more of a stretch forward role, both possessing the ability to knock down the three ball. This negates Burns’ ability to sit back in the paint, forcing the big man to stretch out and have to play on ball defense. Poised to exploit Burns off the dribble, North Carolina State will be forced to drop down into help coverage which will lead a Hokie open on the perimeter.
This plays right into Virginia Tech’s hands as their offensive identity revolves around their ability to generate the best look possible from the perimeter. They shoot 36.1% from deep, good for 71st in the nation per TeamRankings. Attacking DJ Burns isn’t enough to get the job done, the Hokies will have to remain crisp with their facilitation as NCST guards the perimeter at an elite rate. The Hokies are more than capable of shifting the NCST guards with constant ball movement, ranking 27th in assists per game.
Virginia Tech Vs. North Carolina State Prediction: Virginia Tech +2.5
Virginia Tech Vs. North Carolina State Odds
The spread has not budged since oddsmakers opened the number at +2.5, keeping this number widely available as of writing. Projections have this at +2 on a neutral court, giving slight value with the hook in play. I played this small as I believe the Hokies ball movement will be too much for NCST’s defense to combat against, giving an opportunity for a consistent scoring pace.
Speaking of a scoring pace, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a blistering fast pace as they opened the number at 150. Bettors were quick to hammer the under since the open, taking it down to 146.5. This is heavily predicated on the Wolfpack’s ability to score from the perimeter as a guard heavy scoring unit, going against one of better perimeter defenses in the nation as of late.
Virginia Tech Vs. North Carolina State Key Matchups
North Carolina State guard play vs Virginia Tech perimeter defense
The Hokies ability to guard the perimeter is a key reason in my under prediction for Virginia Tech Vs. North Carolina State. While it hasn’t exactly been the same dominance that Virginia Tech’s perimeter defense has been accustomed to, they have rounded back into form as of late by limiting opposing offenses to just 30.5% in their last five contests.
They will need to find this same exact success against a Wolfpack offense who plays an inside-out style of play. It starts with limiting DJ Burns in the interior by shading towards his dominant hand, avoiding having to send help defense all the way down low so they can have an extra body up top.
With coverage at the perimeter, NCST has shown to struggle to connect from deep with a hand in their face. UNC laid the blueprint, forcing NCST into multiple clunkers and airballs against an emphasis of perimeter defense.
Look for the Hokies to round back into form by winning outright against the Wolfpack.