The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday June 7th

What to expect as No. 9 UNC men's basketball takes on Virginia Tech

<p>UNC forward&nbsp;Justin Jackson (44) throws down a dunk against Davidson on Dec. 4, 2016. UNC takes on Virginia Tech on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Chapel Hill.</p>
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UNC forward Justin Jackson (44) throws down a dunk against Davidson on Dec. 4, 2016. UNC takes on Virginia Tech on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Chapel Hill.

How do they play?

Virginia Tech (15-4, 4-3 ACC) excels behind a deep roster of talented scorers, with five players averaging more than 10 points per game — and in the team’s win over Duke on Dec. 31, six players scored double-digit points.

While the Hokies are not as explosive as UNC (18-3, 6-1 ACC), they still tend to play in high-scoring affairs, ranking fifth in the ACC in scoring offense (81.5 points per game). This will pose an interesting matchup for the Tar Heels, who also boast depth and lead the ACC in scoring offense (89.4 points per game).

The Hokies have also consistently beat their opponents on the glass — outrebounding all but six of their opponents. However, the Hokies haven’t crashed the boards as hard in ACC play, ranking eighth in the conference in defensive rebounds and 13th in offensive boards.

Who stands out?

Zach LeDay is Virginia Tech’s consistent leader. The redshirt senior forward leads the Hokies in scoring (16.3 points per game), but he also contributes on the boards (7.1 rebounds per game).

Seth Allen is coming into the matchup on a hot streak, leading his team with back-to-back 17-point games in wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson. The redshirt senior guard averages 11.7 points per game and could pose a threat for the Tar Heels.

Chris Clarke is Virginia Tech’s rebounding leader, averaging 7.8 boards per game. He has led the Hokies on the glass in the last five games, but with 12.5 points per game, he has also proved himself as an offensive presence. In conference play, Clarke has stepped up his scoring, averaging 15.3 points in ACC games. Clarke will be a tough test for the Tar Heels, as his offensive efficiency — he’s making 60.7 percent of his attempted shots — will make him challenging to defend.

What’s their weakness?

Virginia Tech might be able to keep pace with UNC’s offense, but the Hokies will likely have trouble trying to slow down the Tar Heels. The Hokies rank last in the ACC in blocked shots, second-to-last in steals and fifth-to-last in scoring defense. It will be tough for Virginia Tech to stand a chance against UNC if the Hokies cannot find a way to stifle North Carolina’s potent offense, which ranks fourth in the nation.

How could they win?

The Hokies do not let scoring opportunities slip away, ranking third in the ACC in field goal percentage (.487). They have shot 40 percent or higher from the 3-point line in nine games this season, and they shot 61.5 percent from beyond the arc in the upset win over then-No. 5 Duke.

Virginia Tech ranks 46th nationally and fourth in the ACC in 3-point percentage — for comparison, North Carolina ranks 77th in the nation and seventh in the ACC. If the Hokies can have a good shooting day, they could pull ahead of the Tar Heels.

Virginia Tech also has the chance to capitalize on UNC’s thin frontcourt. Having first-year Tony Bradley available will help the Tar Heels in this area, but if the Hokies can tempt Isaiah Hicks to commit silly fouls and keep Kennedy Meeks off the offensive glass, they could pull off the upset.



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