Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
No. 16 Virginia Tech is set for a trip up to the Steel City.
The Hokies (13-3, 7-2 ACC) are coming off their biggest conference win of the Mike Young era, and they’ll try to keep the Pittsburgh Panthers from spoiling their hot streak. They travel to the Petersen Events Center in front of an empty “Oakland Zoo” on Wednesday evening.
Game Day Information
When: Wednesday, Feb. 3, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
PXP: Tom Werme
Analyst: Mike Gminski
Series History: Virginia Tech Leads 9-7
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech Won 67-57 on Feb. 15, 2020
Line: Virginia Tech -3
A Historic Start
Virginia Tech’s 65-51 domination of No. 8 Virginia was incredibly soothing for Virginia Tech fans all over the country, and justified the optimism that fans have had. Virginia Tech basketball is for real, and it is an ACC title contender.
Now let’s slow down; they don’t crown champions in January, and unfortunately, it would be a Hokie tradition to follow it up with a shocking loss to Pittsburgh, but we’ll focus on the Panthers in a second. We still can’t ignore what Virginia Tech did to its in-state rival on Saturday.
Can we take a minute to give a standing ovation to Keve Aluma? The Wofford transfer just outplayed one of the better players in the country in Virginia’s Jay Huff, putting up a double-double, and totaling 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Hunter Cattoor also had a fantastic game for the Hokies. He continues to show the ACC how big of a jump he’s made from his freshman to sophomore seasons. He put up 15 points and capped it off with the greatest shot clock violation you’ll ever see, stuffing the Wahoos all the way back to Charlottesville.
Wabissa Bede put up seven points, but he may have had his best defensive game of the season on Kihei Clark. It also is worth mentioning that this was Virginia Tech’s first game without Tyrece Radford after a DUI arrest. Young seems somewhat hopeful he could actually return this season.
It was a great win for Virginia Tech, but now it has to turn the page to a Pittsburgh team that has some good wins so far this season. The next challenge the Hokies face will be up at “The Pete” against the Panthers.
The “Champagnie” Show
For the Pitt Panthers (8-5, 4-4 ACC), they’re coached by former Duke standout and associate head coach Jeff Capel. The real leader who runs this team is potential ACC Player of the Year Justin Champagnie.
Champagnie’s numbers are insane. He’s averaging a double-double at 20.1 points per game and 12.1 boards per contest. He also leads the team in assists and blocks, meaning he’s first in four of the five major categories for the Panthers.
He’s another elite forward the Hokies will be facing. Look for he and Aluma to have a heck of a match-up all evening long.
Au’diese Toney and Xavier Johnson are guys who herald good guard play for Pitt, averaging 14.7 and 13.2 points, respectively. They will be the assignments that Bede and Cattoor will be faced with all evening.
Virginia Tech occasionally slips up and falls in these stinker types of games after a big win. Not this time though; this team is different. It showed that against the Cavaliers.
We wouldn’t call the Hokies the favorites to win the ACC. They’re still probably third behind Virginia and Florida State, but they’ll win one up in Pittsburgh, and continue to add to their best start ever in ACC Play.
Prediction: (16) Virginia Tech 70, Pittsburgh 60
Following Wednesday’s game, the Hokies will board a flight home before heading to South Florida on Saturday afternoon to take on the Miami Hurricanes.
That game will be at noon ET and will air on Raycom Sports Networks.