It’s a hoops fan extravaganza these next two nights.
One of the more eye-catching events of the College Basketball season is always the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and this year is no exception. This year’s slate features multiple Top 25 matchups, and a couple of blue blood battles.
Virginia Tech isn’t necessarily one of those marquee matchups, but they’ll still host a game in this year’s challenge after sitting last year out.
The Penn State Nittany Lions will come into Blacksburg this evening hoping to pull off a big upset. The Nittany Lions need a resume-building win in what has been a roller coaster start up in State College.
Game Day Information
When: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
PXP: Dave O’Brien
Analyst: Jordan Cornette
Series History: Virginia Tech Leads 6-3
Last Meeting: Penn State Won 63-62 on Nov. 27, 2018
Line: Virginia Tech -6
When the Hokies fell to Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge two seasons ago, it was a massive upset. Quite frankly, it was Virginia Tech’s only bad loss of the year for the eventual Sweet Sixteen bound Hokies.
The Hokies (4-0) have deserved every bit of that #15 ranking. Mike Young’s team has responded well to upsetting #3 Villanova, following with wins over South Florida and VMI.
The Keydets however, gave the Hokies all they could handle. After trailing 36-26 in the 2nd half, VMI went on a 13-0 run to take a 39-36 lead. That lead would expand to 45-41 with just about 8 minutes remaining. Virginia Tech eventually overcame that deficit to win the game 64-57, paced by post presence Keve Aluma. The Wofford transfer put up 17 points and 12 rebounds to complete the comeback, and allowed Hokie fans all over the country to take a sigh of relief.
Now, Virginia Tech will have the challenge of continuing the momentum against a solid Penn State team. We should see a bit more of guard Jalen Cone, who missed some time with a foot issue.
New Team, New Look
After Penn State (2-1) opened up the season with wins over VMI and a solid VCU team, the Nittany Lions dropped the ball against a down Seton Hall on Sunday Evening in State College.
Longtime head coach Pat Chambers resigned prior to the season, and in his place is Interim Coach Jim Ferry, the former Duquesne University head coach.
Out goes star forward Lamar Stevens, who many consider one of the best players in school history, and the Nittany Lions are left with a young team with an interim coach.
Sophomore Seth Lundy has helped pick up the slack though. The forward leads the team in scoring by averaging 22.3 points per game, and could be a problem all over the floor all night for the Hokies if they struggle to defend.
Virginia Tech, however, has not struggled to defend.
Offensively, I don’t expect a guy like Cone to have a huge game for the Hokies, due to how well the Nittany Lions defend. But a guy to watch out for is Tyrece Radford. He’ll light up Penn State, and the Nittany Lions won’t have the firepower to keep up with the Hokies and defeat them for a 3rd-straight time.
Prediction: (15) Virginia Tech 74, Penn State 66
Following tonight’s contest, the Hokies will enjoy a week off before returning to the floor next Tuesday night at Cassell Coliseum.
That game will begin ACC play, as Virginia Tech will host Clemson in Blacksburg at 6:30 p.m. on the ACC Network.