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ACC Basketball Preview: How Syracuse Matches Up with Virginia Tech

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This series previews Syracuse's conference opponents for the 2014-15 season, continuing with the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Last year's ACC basement dwellers in Blacksburg will have a familiar face strolling the sidelines.

Yes, the former Marquette head coach Buzz Williams will be coaching his first season on the Virginia Tech sideline, and despite his track record of moderate success, it might take some time for him to make his mark on this program and put them in the right direction.

This team was bad last year, ranking amongst the worst teams in the country in various important statistical categories. Here is a look at how Syracuse matches up with the Hokies, a team that has just chose a new path on the rebuilding road.

Don't forget to take a look at our other previews, covering Notre DameClemsonBoston College, Florida StateLouisvilleDukeVirginiaNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina State and Pittsburgh.

2013-14 Record: 9-22 (2-16)

Last Time We Saw Them: In Blacksburg, the Orange came up with a 20-point victory, 72-52. Four Orange players (C.J. Fair, Trevor Cooney, Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis) scored in double figures and they out rebounded the Hokies 41-25. It was as close as four in the second half, but a 16-0 run put the Orange on top for good.

Season Summary: The Hokies went 7-5 against non-conference opponents, including a loss to Michigan State when the Spartans were the top ranked team in the country. That was their only ranked opponent before conference play. They won their first ACC game against Miami, lost 10 straight, beat Miami again and then lost six more games in a row to finish off the regular season in last place in the conference. To no surprise, they lost their first conference tournament game to none other than the Hurricanes, ending the Hokies' miserable season.

Key Players:

Adam Smith (11 PPG/2.3 RPG/2.1 APG): After only playing 14 games due to a calf injury, Smith will be back for his junior year as the team's leading returning scorer. What has impressed in the preseason is his three point shooting. Look for him to take on a big role this year.

Devin Wilson (9.2 PPG/3.2 RPG/4.8 APG): This All-ACC Freshman team point guard will also need to step up his game for the Hokies. He played in every game last season, and did a little bit of everything for his team. He struggled mightily from the field and turned the ball over almost three times per game. Being a low rated recruit, his first year was pretty impressive. We'll have to wait and see if he continues to progress.

Joey Van Zegeren (6.4 PPG/5 RPG): This guy is the only returning player above 6'4", so he will be taking on a big role with this team (no pun intended). The 6'10" junior showed he can protect the rim a little bit with 1.7 blocks per game and he shot 50 percent from the field. His 36 percent mark from the charity stripe, however, is slightly comical.

Personnel Changes: Jarrel Eddie (13.3 PPG/5.4 RPG/1.2 APG) was their leading scorer, but he graduated after shooting a higher percent from three (37.6) than from the field (35.5). Two of their other top five scorers are also not returning. C.J. Barksdale chose to end his basketball career due to nagging injuries while Ben Emelogu decided to transfer to SMU.

The team has lost five players since Williams took over and only have five players on scholarship. Smith is returning and German point guard Malik Muller will make his debut after redshirting last season.  Their recruiting class is not too bad either, grabbing guards Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs, both in the ESPN Top 100. Jalen Hudson joins both those guys at the shooting guard position and Satchel Pierce, the 41st ranked center by ESPN, finishes off their class.

2014-15 Potential: After three straight years at the bottom of the conference, they are projected to make it four. Anything higher than last will be an achievement for this team.

Orange Matchup: The Orange will be a bigger team than the Hokies. They have more experience and talent, making for what should be an easy victory.

After their win against the Hokies last season, Boeheim said the 2-3 zone was extended farther than it had been all season because they like to shoot a lot. With all of those guards signed on to play this year, look for that trend to continue. Look for the Orange to try and force some run outs off of long rebounds from failed three point attempts.

The Hokie defense is not too strong, as the Orange shot 46 percent from the field and 40 percent from three against them last year. Buzz Williams knows Jim Boeheim well by now, but his team should not be able to compete with the Orange this year.