Teams: Syracuse Orange (10-7, 3-3) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (13-4, 4-2)
Date & Time: Saturday, January 18 at 12:00 pm ET
Location: Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia
TV/Streaming: YES Network
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has a 31% chance of winning. So you’re telling me there’s a chance...
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 9-5, Syracuse
Current Streak: 2, Virginia Tech
First Meeting: In 1976, the Orange and the Hokies faced off for the first time. The Orange were led by Larry Kelley in the game with 18 points, but Virginia Tech would ultimately end up winning the game 92-81. With coach John DeVoe at the helm that year, the Hokies went 21-7 in his last season as coach and made the NCAA Tournament. It was also the final season for Roy Danforth before Jim Boeheim took over, and the Orange also made the tournament, finishing the season at 20-9.
Last Meeting: A 67-63 loss for the Orange less than two weeks ago. It still stings a bit, especially because Syracuse led for the majority of the game, including the first 10 minutes of the second half, only to falter down the stretch.
Jalen Cone, a relatively unknown freshman averaging less than five points per contest went off against the Orange with 19 points. We’ve certainly never heard that story before...
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,055-386 at SU) | Virginia Tech - Mike Young (1st Year, 13-4 at VT)
Coach Bio: Mike Young is in his rookie campaign for the Hokies in the wake of Buzz Williams leaving to coach at Texas A&M last year.
Prior to coaching at Virginia Tech, Young coached at Wofford for 17 seasons and is the winningest coach in Wofford history, with 308 to his name. While at Wofford, the Terriers made the NCAA tournament five times, advancing the the round of 32 in 2019.
So far at Virginia Tech, Young has done a tremendous job with a new team in a new system. They have a great win over Michigan State, a road win at Clemson that is looking better and better, a road win against the Orange, and still no bad losses.
Last Year: Virginia Tech was a handful for everyone in the ACC. They finished the year 24-8 and 12-6 in the league, good for fifth place and a four seed in the NCAA tournament. They made it all the way to the Sweet 16 before having the unfortunate draw of Zion Williamson and Duke. They lost 75-73, ending one of the best seasons in Virginia Tech history.
Last Game: Virginia Tech won on the road at Wake Forest, 80-70. The Hokies were led by Landers Nolley II and Tyrece Radford with 21 points each. Virginia Tech hit nine three-pointers in the game and forced Wake Forest into 18 turnovers with their intense pressure defense.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Not much has changed in two weeks. Landers Nolley continues to be the engine that drives the Hokies offense. Nolley is averaging 18.1 points per game and no one else on the team averages ten. He is also an excellent rebounder at 6-foot-7, averaging 5.6 per game while also adding 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals.
In his last two games he has been an absolute stud, going off for 21 points against Wake Forest and then 29 against NC State. He was held in check during the first meeting, scoring only 13 points, so we’ll see if he remains hot against the Orange.
If Syracuse Wins: Three-game winning streak with two road victories over top six ACC teams? Sign me up! This would be another solid win to help the Orange start building a resume. Let’s face it, college basketball is... ugly this year. Syracuse can absolutely sneak into the tournament if they get hot at the right time.
If Syracuse Loses: Not all that shocking. Virginia Tech is actually a solid team, and road victories are tough to come by in the ACC. However, I think a loss here puts a serious dagger into any NCAA tournament chances the Orange have left. There just aren’t enough winnable games left on the schedule for the Orange to afford to lose here.
Fun Fact 1: Syracuse and Virginia Tech met just three times while both were members of the Big East. The Orange won all three matchups.
Fun Fact 2: Syracuse has won nine of the last 12 meetings in the series, however the Hokies have won three of the last four and two straight.