If there were 5 fans left on the BC basketball bandwagon after the Maryland game, I'd say the win over Miami reclaimed ... what ... 5 more? So for you 10 fans still on the bandwagon, we turn our attention to a winnable (?) game against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday. To preview this weekend's game between former Big East foes, we welcome Niemo from the VT hoops blog Tech Hoops for Five Good Minutes.
In exchange, we answered some questions for Tech Hoops. You can find our answers here.
BC Interruption: Let’s start with examining this Virginia Tech team’s entire body of work up until this point. At first glance, the Hokies’ 14-3 record looks pretty impressive. But when you start to go all kenpom on the Hokies, you quickly note that VT hasn’t beaten any opponent in the kenpom Top 50. You’ll also note that the only teams they have lost to are all in the kenpom Top 50. We are quickly finding out that teams like Miami and (dare I say) North Carolina are more pretenders than contenders in the ACC this season. So which is it for your Hokies? Contender? Pretender?
Niemo: That's easy - contender. I say that because every team in the ACC is a contender this year. 12 of the 15 players that made All-ACC 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team last year are gone, and it has created tremendous parity in the league. That said, I don't see the Hokies winning the regular season title because of their weak inside game and lack of big men, but they are certainly one of the nine teams that could challenge for a First Round bye in the ACC Tournament.
BCI: Many BC fans are familiar with explosive junior guard Malcolm Delaney. Who else do the Eagles have to be concerned with on offense this Saturday?
Niemo: Our power forward, Jeff Allen, had 53 points and 20 rebounds in the two Boston College-Virginia Tech games last year. He is maybe Tech's most gifted player, but doesn't show up every night. Bigger teams have really shut him down this year, but that's not the eagles. Allen could have a big game.
Also, shooting guard Dorenzo Hudson has been on a hot streak the last four weeks, averaging over 15 points per game. He is a slasher that can ring up some points. Both he and Allen have won ACC Player of the Week in the last month and a half.
BCI: Does Virginia Tech play big or small? Do they try to dominate you in the paint or try to kill you on the perimeter?
Niemo: The Hokies don't have a lot of beef inside, but at the same time they don't have a lot of perimeter threats other than Delaney. They will shoot threes by committee but it isn't a big part of the attack. Tech tries to beat you with solid defense that takes away transition opportunities and creates turnovers in the half court. On offense, Tech has a lot of good players in transition. In the half court, it is either Delaney shooting, feeding it in to Allen, or letting Victor Davila shoot his baby hook.
BCI: Even though the Hokies haven’t exactly played a murderers’ row at home this year, they are an impressive 9-0 at home. BC just knocked off an ACC team that was 9-0 at home in the Hurricanes. Describe the home court advantage (if any) created when the Hokies play in Cassell Coliseum. Will a home court advantage come into play on Saturday?
Niemo: The Hokies have one of the best, and most underrated, home court advantages in the ACC. The place is basically a barn (insert rural Virginia joke here) so it traps noise in and gets loud with the 10k fans. Tech always has a good showing for ACC games, but even attendance for out of conference games has been up this year. The Hokies win about 70% of their home ACC games.
BCI: Some would say that Virginia Tech benefits from the unbalanced ACC schedule this year, just as some would claim BC benefitted from the schedule last year. What are your thoughts on the unbalanced ACC schedule in basketball? All even out in the end? Or decided advantage for certain programs from year to year?
Niemo: Saying the ACC schedule is balanced would be like saying Fox News is "fair and balanced"... speaking of which, congratulations on the election of Scott Brown! Ha! Jon Stewart was losing it on the Daily Show the other day, great stuff. But I digress... Tech plays North Carolina and the four teams picked at the bottom of the ACC this year twice. Couldn't possibly have a weaker schedule. And with how UNC is going, even that isn't that tough. But now the Hokies have to make something of it. Georgia Tech has the toughest schedule by far, but they are 3-2 and lost to the weaker two so who knows how much it helps.
BCI: On to the lightning round. Will Virginia Tech make the NCAA Tournament this season?
Niemo: 8-8 and I think Tech makes the dance. I think the Hokies can go 8-8 (but need to win this game), so I'll say yes.
BCI: (Generally curious since I don't know the answer) ... Greatest player to ever play for Virginia Tech basketball?
Niemo: Dell Curry - #2 all time in scoring, #4 in assists, and #1 in steals. If they had had the three-point line when he played in the mid-80s, he'd be #1 in scoring. Had a long NBA career and was even drafted in the MLB Draft as a pitcher.
BCI: How is fan support for Virginia Tech basketball relative to football support? 50% of what football support is? 25%?
Niemo: I'd say 25%. That said, with how big football support is, 25% isn't bad. People do support the basketball program but it is definitely second fiddle to pigskin.
BCI: Better event - the ACC basketball tournament or the Big East basketball tournament?
Niemo: I never went to the Big East Tourney (VT only made it once in their four years in the league). I've been to the ACC Tournament twice and it was absolutely awesome. I went when it was in DC and when it was in Atlanta last year. The only bad thing is they don't sell booze at it so you have to smuggle it in in your socks (socks never get frisked). I'd like to go when it is in North Carolina and see if it is even better, though I have a feeling the UNC and Duke fans will be even more obnoxious. I will say I've heard the Big East Tourney at MSG is incredible, too, and I like that they have it in the same spot every year, but I can't compare it since I haven't gone. Plus, I've heard the NYC gentlemen clubs are pretty great, though I'm not sure they could top Atlanta.
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Thoughts on this game? Who ya got? What’s the final score?
Niemo: I'm picking the Hokies. For starters, because they are the better team from what I've seen this year, and I've watched the eagles a good bit. Also because the Hokies are at home and home teams are 18-8 in ACC play so far. Plus, this is a game Tech absolutely has to win. You can't lose to one of the weaker teams in the league at home if you want to keep dreams of the Big Dance floating in your heads. I'll say the Hokies by eight and the score will probably be in the 60s.
BCI: Thanks for joining us.
Niemo is a Senior Writer for TechHoops.com, the authority for Virginia Tech basketball news, opinions, and video. He has been working with the site since its inception three years ago. In addition to being an avid Virginia Tech hoops fan, he has also attended 103 consecutive Hokie home football games, including sitting through the monsoon in 2007 where Matty Ice ruined Tech's chances at a national title (though beating BC in back-to-back ACC title games was pretty nice).
Also, be sure to check out Gobbler Country for more great Virginia Tech Hokies coverage.