UNCG has been one of the most up and down teams in the SoCon this year. They beat High Point, but lose to Presbyterian. Last week, the Spartans beat down James Madison and then lost a close battle to Wake Forest. Which raised the question- could the Spartans possibly get an ACC win over the Hokies of Virginia Tech?
The Hokies have lost to USC-Upstate, Michigan State, Seton Hall, and were demolished by VCU their last time out. They have already beaten Western Carolina and Furman from the SoCon this year. They will be looking to get to 3-0 against SoCon competition in this game.
The Hokies rely heavily on their lone senior starter, Jarrell Eddie. Eddie leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest. He is 6-7 and the team's best three point shooter. He shoots 49.4% from three, having made 39 already this year. He is also third on the team in assists, with 1.5 per contest.
There are four Hokies averaging in double figures in scoring. Ben Emelgou is averaging 13.6 points per game, Adam Smith 13.1 points, and CJ Barksdale 10.1 points. Barksdale is also averaging 5.1 rebounds per game. Devin Wilson leads the team in assists with 5.4 per game. He is also averaging 3.4 turnovers per game.
The Hokies are the second best three point shooting team in the country, at 44%. They are 15th in the country in the percentage of their points coming from three point range. This is not a team that forces turnovers, but they play very good defense. They are not a big team, but they are more than big enough to compete with a SoCon school.
Talking about a contrast in styles, the Spartans are not a great three point shooting team. Nicholas Paulos is shooting 35.7% from three point range, having made 35 threes on the year and Jordan Potts has made 18 of 29 from three point range. No one else is really a threat to make a three.
The Spartans rely on Kyle Cain, Tevon Saddler and Kayel Locke. Cain is averaging 16.0 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. He is shootng 52.4% from the floor. Locke is averaging 11.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He is shooting 46.2% from the floor. Tevon Saddler is averaging 11.8 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, and 3.5 assists per game. Cain and Locke will need to dominate inside against Virginia Tech and hope that Saddler can do his thing for them to have a shot. A few knocked down threes by Potts and Paulos wouldn't hurt anything.
The Hokies clearly have more talent, but the Spartans have been seeming to build to this to some extent. They seem prepared to take down a team like Virginia Tech. I think the Hokies are pretty good, but the Spartans are more than capable of beating this team. However, more than likely, the Spartans will start slow and dig too big of a hole to dig out of. The Spartans will make a furious second half rally to keep it respectable, but just too much deep shooting for the Hokies to pull this off. Virgnia Tech 78, UNCG 72.