Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
Backs against the walls, through the heart of a gruesome upcoming schedule, Virginia Tech (6-2) got the big win it needed on Wednesday evening against Maryland.
How will they get rewarded? Well, the Hokies get to come home to a sellout crowd inside Cassell Coliseum. They host Wake Forest (7-1) in the ACC opener. Both squads are trying to get to that coveted 1-0 start in conference play on a warmer Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg.
Game Day Information
When: Saturday, Dec. 4, 2 p.m. ET
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
TV: ACC Network
PXP: Drew Carter
Analyst: Dan Bonner
Series History: Virginia Tech Leads 38-31
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech Won 84-46 on Feb. 27, 2021
Line: Virginia Tech -8.5
Finding A Way
It certainly wasn’t easy for Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in College Park as a part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
A slow start, missed open shots, and more poor point guard play prevented the Hokies from getting in any rhythm throughout the first 30 minutes of this one. Tight defense, lackluster offense, that was the story early on.
Fortunately for head coach Mike Young and company, a switch flipped pretty quickly in the latter half of the contest. The combination of Keve Aluma, 17, and Hunter Cattoor, 12, couldn’t be stopped late in this one. Aluma, a Maryland native, finally was starting to look like his old self. It showed with the preseason All-ACC pick totaling his second double-double of the season.
Justyn Mutts also quietly added 16 points of his own. Plus, some timely shots by the always potent Nahiem Alleyne, 8, resulted in a gusty battle-tested road victory for the Hokies.
The negatives? Well, it’s no secret that Virginia Tech has got to get Wofford transfer Storm Murphy going at the top of the key. The Wisconsin native hasn’t really found his footing at the Power 5 level yet, as he was held scoreless for the second consecutive contest.
But Virginia Tech will take it any way it can get it. The Hokies now turn their attention to an up-and-coming Wake Forest team under second-year head coach Steve Forbes.
A year ago, the Demon Deacons found themselves to be relatively non-competitive in the ACC. They were a step behind the majority of their competition, and just not a very good basketball team.
That could very well change though. Forbes is looking for a very Buzz Williams-esque type of turnaround in Winston-Salem, and he’s off to a good start so far this season.
The Deacs have taken care of the opponents they’ve needed to along the way. Including taking down two fellow Power 5 schools in Oregon State and Northwestern to kickstart an exciting start to the 2021-22 campaign.
So how has the turnaround been this fast? Well, very similar to Williams at Virginia Tech with Seth Allen, in comes a big-time transfer guard. This time coming in the form of Oklahoma transfer Alondes Williams.
The Milwaukee native has been averaging nearly 20 points per game and nearly six rebounds per contest to lead the team in both categories. Add in Indiana State transfer Jake LaRavia (15.5 ppg), and Wake Forest is set going forward with their two shiny new toys.
The always dangerous Daivien Williamson (14.8 ppg) is back in the fold as well. He’ll hope to witness one of the greatest year-to-year turnarounds after the Deacs lost by nearly 40 in Blacksburg a season ago.
This game is going to be a lot closer than fans may have expected coming into the season.
Wake Forest is much more talented, physical, and together after a dismal 6-16 2020-21 season. But it still won’t be able to beat the Hokies in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech will use a raucous environment to their advantage and take down the Demon Deacons to start off ACC play with a solid victory at Cassell Coliseum.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 72, Wake Forest 59