UNC vs. Virginia Tech Prediction, Game Preview

    UNC vs. Virginia Tech prediction and game preview. The Tar Heels will look to take care of business at home against a feisty Hokies squad in Chapel Hill, NC.

    January 25, 2017

    UNC vs. Virginia Tech prediction and game preview. The Tar Heels will look to take care of business at home against a feisty Hokies squad in Chapel Hill, NC.

    UNC vs. Virginia Tech Game Preview

    When: Thursday, Jan. 26 – 8 p.m. ET
    Where: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
    TV Broadcast: ESPN

    Roy Williams and the ninth-ranked Tar Heels (18-3, 6-1 ACC) struggled to finish off Boston College on the road their last time out, but Tony Bradley Jr. returned and played 11 minutes after missing two games with a concussion. Kennedy Meeks scored 20 points and had nine rebounds, while Justin Jackson tallied 22 points for UNC, which won its sixth straight since a league-opening loss to Georgia Tech. But the Tar Heels let the Eagles hang around the entire game, so they’re looking for a more crisp effort against a much tougher opponent.

    Meanwhile, the Hokies (15-4, 4-3) are coming off of a tough road victory at Clemson, 82-81, at Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday night. VT had a 41-40 lead at intermission, and the game was a back-and-forth affair in the second half. The Hokies were 16-of-17 from the free-throw line, including 9-of-9 in the second half and 6-of-6 in the final 21 seconds to hold on for the victory.

    In last year’s meeting between these teams in Blacksburg, the Tar Heels used Brice Johnson’s 19 points and 17 rebounds to help them score a 75-70 win over the Hokies for their 11th straight victory.

    UNC Wins If …

    … The Tar Heels continue to dominate the boards and get second-chance points. UNC entered its game against BC averaging 18.5 second-chance points per game, which was most among major conference teams. The Tar Heels exceeded that average against the Eagles.

    The Hokies will have a lot of trouble stealing this game in Chapel Hill if they get killed on the boards. The Tar Heels now have Bradley Jr. healthy as well as the duo of Meeks and Isaiah Hicks in the frontcourt, so their likely big rebounding advantage is something that the Hokies are going to have to overcome.

    Virginia Tech Wins If …

    … The Hokies get big production from their top two scorers. Team scoring leader Zach LeDay and No. 2 scorer Ahmed Hill never could get going in a loss to Notre Dame less than two weeks ago, as LeDay finished with 10 and Hill just two in the setback. Such small point totals are a recipe for disaster against high-scoring UNC. The pair must be at their best.

    Connecting from downtown is also essential for the Hokies. They have had seven games this season in which they have made 10 or more 3-pointers, and this is one in which long-range potency will be needed because it is likely to be an up-and-down affair.

    Matchup To Watch

    Seth Allen’s ball protection vs. UNC’s rebounding margin

    The VT senior guard made some clutch plays down the stretch in the win over Clemson, including a steal with 1:30 left and a three-pointer to put the Hokies up five points with 31 ticks remaining. Perhaps most importantly, Allen committed just one turnover in 37 minutes of play. He led the Hokies with 17 points and six rebounds. Not giving the Tar Heels easy baskets is of the utmost importance.

    Meanwhile, the Tar Heels rely on offensive rebounds and second-chance points to take the life out of their opponents. In last season’s meeting, UNC out-rebounded the Hokies 48-33, which helped it offset a day in which the Tar Heels shot just 37.8 percent (28 of 74) and made just three 3-pointers. VT needs to limit its turnovers and at least make UNC work on the glass.

    Betting Odds

    Spread: No spread as of post
    Over/Under: No line as of post

    UNC vs. Virginia Tech Prediction

    The Tar Heels have too much size up front, as second-chance points are ultimately the difference in this one. The Hokies will have one of their best shooting nights of the year, though. But UNC will ice the game late with free throws.

    UNC vs. Virginia Tech final score prediction: UNC 77, Virginia Tech 69

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