The Virginia men’s basketball team returns home to host Virginia Tech in the Commonwealth Clash on Wednesday night at John Paul Jones Arena. The 10th-ranked Cavaliers have won each of their last three games and return to the AP Top 10 for the first time since before Christmas. Meanwhile, the Hokies have lost their last five games and come into this game with a dismal 1-5 record in ACC play. But in a rivalry game, all the records and winning and losing streaks get thrown out the window. Expect a hard-fought and closely-contested battle between these in-state archrivals.
Read on for a full preview of Virginia vs. Virginia Tech, including details on the game, an opponent scouting report, game notes, and a score prediction.
Who: Virginia Cavaliers (13-3, 5-2 ACC) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-6, 1-5 ACC)
When: Wednesday, January 18th at 7pm ET
Where: John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia
How to watch: ESPNU
How to stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
How to listen: SiriusXM 132 or 193, SXM App 965 | Virginia Sports Radio Network – click here for affiliates
All-time series: Virginia leads 96-58
Last meeting: Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 62-53 on February 14th, 2022 in Blacksburg.
Opponent Scouting Report: Virginia Tech
2022-2023: 11-6, 1-5 ACC
Notable results: Penn State 61-59 W, at Charleston 77-75 L, North Carolina 80-72 W, Oklahoma State 70-65 W, Boston College 70-65 (OT) L, Wake Forest 77-75 L, Clemson 68-65 L, NC State 73-69 L, Syracuse 82-72 L
The 2022 ACC Tournament Championships started this season 11-1 with that sole loss coming on the road against Charleston, a team that is now 19-1 on the season. Then, Virginia Tech’s season went off the rails. An overtime loss at Boston College on December 21st was the beginning of a five-game losing streak that continues heading into this game and the Hokies find themselves in desperate need of a win as they are 1-5 in ACC play and staring at a three-game stretch featuring road games at No. 10 Virginia and No. 19 Clemson, followed by a home game against Duke.
One big reason for Virginia Tech’s recent struggles is the absence of Hunter Cattoor, as the MVP of the 2022 ACC Tournament has missed the last four games of this losing streak with an elbow injury. Fortunately for the Hokies, it appears that Cattoor is expected to return for the game at Virginia on Wednesday, according to head coach Mike Young. A 40.3% three-point shooter averaging 9.6 points per game, Cattoor is one of Virginia Tech’s best players on both ends of the floor when healthy.
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Although Virginia Tech lost Keve Aluma, Nahiem Alleyne, and Storm Murphy from last year’s team, the Hokies return several key contributors from the ACC Championship team, including Sean Pedulla, Justyn Mutts, and Darius Maddox in addition to Cattoor.
The 6’1″ guard Sean Pedulla has built off of his impressive freshman season and is in the midst of a stellar sophomore campaign, leading the team in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and assists (4.4 apg). Pedulla shot a blistering 44.7% from three as a freshman, but as his volume as nearly tripled this season (2.1 to 5.9 attempts per game), his three-point percentage has tanked to 33.0%. He is still able to get hot at anytime and with Cattoor back on the floor, that should result in higher quality looks for Pedulla from the perimeter as well.
The fifth season of college basketball for 6’7″ forward Justyn Mutts has been his best and most efficient so far. His 13.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game averages are all career-highs and Mutts is also shooting a career-high 45.5% from three and 58.1% from the floor.
Virginia Tech added Wright State graduate transfer Grant Basile, a 6’9″ forward who was a two-time All-Horizon League selection. Basile is capable of stretching the floor at 39.0% from three and has given the Hokies a massive lift on both ends of the floor, averaging 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. 6’5″ junior guard Darius Maddox rounds out the starting five, averaging 9.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Former Clemson transfer Lynn Kidd gives Virginia Tech a traditional center option off the bench. The 6’10” junior is shooting 64.6% from the floor. The Hokies also bring in 6’4″ freshman guard MJ Collins (3.1 ppg) and 6’9″ junior forward Mylyjael Poteat (4.2 ppg) off the bench. 6’4″ freshman Rodney Rice made his collegiate debut in Virginia Tech’s last game against Syracuse. He scored just two points in 29 minutes, but the Hokies are very excited about his potential.
Virginia and Virginia Tech mirror each other in a number of ways. Both the Cavaliers and Hokies have stingy half-court defenses, ranking first and third, respectively, in the ACC in scoring defense. Both teams are comfortable playing at a slow pace, with experienced guards working the offense to get the best possible shot. It would come as no surprise for this game to be close coming down to the final minutes.
- Virginia holds a 96-58 record against Virginia Tech in the all-time series which dates back to the 1914-1915 season.
- UVA is 40-13 against Virginia Tech in games played in Charlottesville and the Cavaliers have won each of the last three games against the Hokies at John Paul Jones Arena.
- Virginia and Virginia Tech split the two game-series last season, with the Cavaliers winning in Charlottesville and the Hokies winning in Blacksburg.
- This matchup is worth a half-point in the 2022-2023 Commonwealth Clash, which Virginia currently leads 4.5-1.0.
- Virginia is 3rd in the ACC standings at 5-2 and Virginia Tech is 12th at 1-5.
- With 110 career wins, Kihei Clark is one win away from passing Mamadi Diakite for most career wins at Virginia.
- Armaan Franklin is 50 points away from reaching 1,000 career points scored.
The Hokies are a much better team than their 1-5 ACC record indicates. Each of those five losses have come by 10 points or less and three of them came by four points or less. Virginia Tech has several players with championship-winning experience and with Hunter Cattoor expected to return, the Hokies should be able to hang with the Cavaliers and make this a close game, as has been the case in the last several matchups between these two programs.
On the other hand, Virginia has the momentum of a three-game winning streak, the advantage of playing at home, and should have no problem “getting up” for the challenge as UVA tries to regain the upper hand in this in-state rivalry. With Reece Beekman nearly back at full strength, the Cavaliers have started to rediscover their early-season magic over the last three games, both on defense and in their three-point shooting. That should be enough for the Hoos to hold off the Hokies at JPJ.
Score prediction: Virginia Tech 64, Virginia 68
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