Bama Hoops Hype

Scouting Report: Virginia Tech

Photo by Joe Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

The NIT will have to wait, because the Alabama Crimson Tide are dancing this March.

Avery Johnson has led his men to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012. Alabama will take on the Hokies of Virginia Tech in a first round matchup to be played in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Virginia Tech finished its season 7th in the ACC with an overall record of 21-11 and a conference record of 10-8.  Head Coach Buzz Williams led his men to a 5-7 record against Quadrant 1 opposition with notable results against No. 10 North Carolina, No. 2 Virginia, No. 15 Clemson, and No. 5 Duke. With all of these victories coming throughout the month of February, the Hokies will certainly be flying high coming into the tournament.

Virginia Tech, however, has shown signs of inconsistency throughout the season with bad losses to Saint Louis and Miami as well as its collapse against Notre Dame in the ACC tournament. In this respect, Alabama will have a bit more confidence after the display it put on against Auburn in the SEC conference tournament.

The front court for the Hokies provides the majority of the offensive production. Led by junior Justin Robinson and senior Justin Bibbs, Tech has the ability to spread Alabama’s defense out and really put pressure on them to make stops. Justin Bibbs is one of the best spot-up shooters in the country and Justin Robinson has the ability to expose defenders in isolation and is almost equally effective with his jump shot. Keeping these two in check will be paramount for Crimson Tide success in this game.

Though their guards lead the team in scoring, they are not the only threats the Tide will be forced to deal with. The return of Donta Hall along with other Alabama post players could make all the difference in this one. With as well as Tech’s guards can play, the Hokies also have a post presence of their own in Kerry Blackshear Jr.  The 6-foot-10 junior is incredibly efficient around the rim, shooting well over 50% from the field.

Virginia Tech is a very deep squad – one of the most balanced teams in the NCAA this year – with five players averaging double figures in the scoring column. This is a team that knows how to share the ball and can knock down shots at a very high percentage. This team shoots just under 50% from the field and 71% from the free-throw line.

There is no hiding that this will be a full-throttle, end to end contest where both teams should look to run in transition and press high up the floor.  Virginia Tech is one of the best teams in the nation when they can get out and run, scoring 58% of the time.

But though this team can certainly put up numbers, it can just as easily give them up.  Alabama will need to get their shooting rhythm going if they hope to push the Hokies in this one and control the tempo of the game.  If the Tide can knock down their open shots effectively and therefore limit the opportunities Virginia Tech sees in transition, there is every chance that the Tide can bust some brackets in this one.

Virginia Tech’s head coach, Buzz Williams, is very experienced when it comes to the NCAA tournament.  Williams has spent time most notably with Marquette, where he made several tournament appearances, including back to back Sweet Sixteen runs and a trip to the Elite Eight in 2013.  Though his tenure at Virginia Tech has not seen the same success so far, Williams seems to have found the right formula and will prove a hard first test for Tide’s first round matchup.

Johnathan Anderson covers Alabama Basketball for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter.

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