Teams: Syracuse Orange (8-6, 1-2) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (10-4, 1-2)
Date & Time: Tuesday, January 7 at 9 p.m. ET
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Extended Forecast: High of 39 and cloudy.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has a 63.6% chance to win this one.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 9-4, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Virginia Tech
First Meeting: The first time these two teams met was back in 1976, and Virginia Tech won the game 92-81. Larry Kelley led the way for the Orange with 18 points on a team that also featured Dale Shackleford and was the last year of the Roy Danforth era.
Last Meeting: Last January, Syracuse basketball played at Virginia Tech in a game that ended up being a rout in favor of the Hokies, 78-56. Virginia Tech shredded the zone on offense, and their stingy, in-your-face defense harassed the Orange all over the court.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,053-385 at SU) | Virginia Tech - Mike Young (1st Year, 10-4 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 decent job with a new team in a new system. They have a great win over Michigan State in the Maui Invitational in November. They don’t have a bad loss on their resume at this point, with their worst coming at the hands of 12-4 BYU.
Last Year: Virginia Tech was a feisty team that was a handful for everyone in the ACC. They finished the year 24-8 and 12-6 in the ACC, good for fifth place and a four seed in the NCAA tournament.
Last Game: The Hokies got “Virginia’d”. It’s as simple as that. In yet another ridiculous display of defensive dominance, the Cavaliers held Tech to 39 points, 27.1% from the field overall, and 16% from three-point range. Shades of the Syracuse game to open the season came to mind.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Virginia Tech lives and dies by the hand of Landers Nolley. Nolley is averaging 17.4 points per game. No one else on the team averages ten. He is also an excellent rebounder at 6-foot-7, averaging 5.8 per game while also adding 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals.
Against Virginia, Landers was the only player who could do anything. He finished with 18 points and had three of the team’s four three-pointers, though he did account for five turnovers as well.
In the season-opener against Clemson, Nolley went off to the tune of 30 points and four three-pointers.
If Syracuse Wins: Whew. It certainly won’t fully remove the foul taste left from the Notre Dame game, but it’s a start. This team has proven that they can hang with teams if the offense is clicking, now they need to take it across the finish line.
If Syracuse Loses: Let’s put it this way. January is the easier portion of the ACC schedule. Virginia Tech is one of the mid-tier teams Syracuse needs to beat, so a loss here is pretty devastating at this point. It digs us in a hole that will be very tough to climb out of, even in a down year for the ACC.
Fun Fact 1: Current ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg is a former Hokies coach. Seth was 0-2 against Jim Boeheim while the head coach of Virginia Tech.
Fun Fact 2: Syracuse has won nine of the last 11 meetings in the series, however the Hokies have won two of the last three.