Notre Dame basketball heads to Blacksburg, VA to face the Virginia Tech Hokies in a pivotal ACC matchup.
At 4-0, Notre Dame is looking to keep their ACC record unblemished before they head to Florida State to take on the conference’s top team. At 2-2 in the conference, Virginia Tech isn’t an easy feat for the Irish.
In fact, Virginia Tech expert, JW Gravley, of Fighting Gobbler says that the Irish aren’t the clear cut favorite to win. Without a significant advantage for Notre Dame, the Hokies have every possibility to claim the Irish’s first ACC loss of the season.
"“There isn’t really a significant threat to the Hokies in this matchup. I think the size is even across the board and I believe that can help both of these teams,” says Gravley. “The Hokies need to slow down all of the Irish starters, if they do, then the Hokies will win. Remember the game is sold out, and the last time the Hokies played in front of a sold out crowd, they knocked off No. 5 Duke.”"
Gravley may be right about the homecourt advantage. The Hokies have been one of the toughest teams to beat at home this season. But the Irish aren’t a stranger to winning on the road. In their last game against Miami, Notre Dame snapped the Hurricanes 21-game home winning streak.
As one of the best forwards in the NCAA, Bonzie Colson has taken on some of the best the ACC has to offer. Against Virginia Tech, he’ll have another vital matchup.
Zach LeDay has led the Hokies all season. Not only is he one of the best scorers in the conference, but he’s also a solid rim protector on the defensive end. Against Notre Dame, he’s VT’s x-factor.
"“He (LeDay) has been the go-to guy for Virginia Tech this season,” explains Gravley. “He will challenge not just Notre Dame on the offensive side of the ball but the defensive side of the ball as well. If Notre Dame can slow him down, then the winning streak at home for the Hokies could be in jeopardy.”"
LeDay may add an advantage for the Hokies. But his competitor will be just as big of an influence on this game. Leading the Irish in points (15.9 PPG) and rebounds (10.8 RPG), Colson is the man every team game plans against. If you’re going to beat the Irish, winning the battle in the paint is where to start.
"“It will take a team effort to stop Colson. His talents are unlike any other than the Hokies have faced this season,” says Gravley. “If I were a betting man, I would say Buzz Williams will put Zach LeDay on him. But that could change. If Khadim Sy plays today, he could be on Colson, but it may take running a zone defense to slow him down.”"
At the end of it all. No matter which matchups shine, this game will be one of the best the ACC has to offer, explains Gravley. Although Notre Dame has the plus-three advantage in the spread, winning on the road will be a challenge. To Gravley, it’s too much for the Irish to handle.
"“Hokies 88 – Irish 87. A last second shot wins the game for the Hokies,” predicts Gravley."