Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics

The Virginia Tech Hokies are coming off a heartbreaking defeat to the Louisville Cardinals, suffering their first conference loss of the 2020-21 season. 

The beauty about basketball though? You get another shot just four days later. 

That shot will come against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish will travel to Cassell Coliseum this evening, hoping to pull off their first conference win of the season after a shaky start up in South Bend. 

Game Day Information

When: Sunday, Jan. 10, 6 p.m. ET

Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA

TV: ACC Network

PXP: Wes Durham

Analyst: Jordan Cornette

Series History: Notre Dame Leads 9-4

Last Meeting: Notre Dame Won 64-56 on Mar. 7, 2020

Line: Virginia Tech -6.5

A Little Reminder

Last time out, the 19th-ranked Hokies (8-2, 2-1 ACC) really did get a little reminder about the competitiveness in the ACC. Virginia Tech dropped a close one to a really good Louisville team that it still hasn’t beaten since 1991. 

Jalen Cone led all scorers, putting up a career-high 23 points for Virginia Tech, and was absolutely lights out behind the arc in the second half. They needed him too; the Hokies trailed by as many as 14 in the final half, and nearly erased a double-digit deficit in the second half for the second time this season. Virginia Tech also did so in an early-season upset of Villanova.

Naheim Alleyne had a fantastic game for Virginia Tech, putting up 15 points in 28 minutes of play, but Keve Aluma – who still put up 11 points – really had his first rough game in a Hokie uniform. Aluma missed the combination of layups, treys, and free throws all evening long. 

Regardless of the Hokies’ MVP’s struggles, and Virginia Tech playing a sloppy first six or so minutes to start the second half, Mike Young’s team still was a lucky bounce away from taking down the Cardinals in Louisville. Hunter Cattoor’s attempt at a game-winning three clanked off the back iron to secure a Louisville 73-71 victory. 

Now, the chance is there for the Hokies to respond. Hungry Notre Dame will come into Blacksburg looking for its first ACC victory of the season. 

No Luck For The Irish

It hasn’t been the smoothest start in year 20 for head coach Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish (3-6, 0-3 ACC) up in South Bend. Notre Dame loaded its non-conference schedule up with the likes of Michigan State, Tennessee – which was cancelled – Ohio State, Kentucky, and Purdue in hopes of challenging itself in the early parts of the season. But the Irish have yet to even get it going in the ACC, dropping contests to Duke, Virginia, and most recently to North Carolina, 66-65 in the final few seconds. 

The Irish have some studs though. Guys like Aluma and Justyn Mutts will have their hands full all game with Nate Laszewski and Prentiss Hubbs. 

Laszewski leads the team in both points and rebounds with 17.2 points and 8.2 boards per contest, respectively. Hubbs isn’t too far behind, averaging nearly 15 points himself on the young season. 

Cordell Pemsl eyes a return from a back injury, so he could help those two if he’s a go. Regardless, the Hokies will certainly have their hands full with both Notre Dame’s big bodies down low. 

The Pick

That being said, this is a crucial game for Virginia Tech to get a win against a down Notre Dame team in a cannibalistic ACC. The Hokies will host Duke Tuesday, so it doesn’t get any easier. 

They know the importance of this one, and they won’t let a chance to get one at home slip away. Virginia Tech will get the win in Blacksburg and remain in the top 25 after a slight drop in the polls. 

Prediction: (19) Virginia Tech 70, Notre Dame 58

Up Next

Following tonight’s contest, the Hokies will turn the page quickly to Tuesday night.

They’ll host a presumable top-25 matchup when Duke comes to town at 7 p.m. ET. The game will air on the ACC Network.