Miami basketball: Virginia Tech preview, ratings, odds, how to watch, bracketology update

Miami guard Lonnie Walker drives to the basket against Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)

Virginia Tech always seems to give Miami trouble, and the Hokies are coming home after back-to-back road wins at Notre Dame and Boston College. They’re also feeling great after their upset of then-No. 10 North Carolina last week.

Looking at a key February game in the ACC:

Records: Miami (16-5, 5-4 ACC), Virginia Tech (16-6, 5-4)

Time: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3

Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. (capacity: 10,052)

Line: N/A

Standings: As of Friday, Miami and Virginia Tech were tied with North Carolina State for fifth in the ACC (5-4). Ahead of that pack: first-place Virginia (10-0), second-place Clemson and Duke (7-3), and fourth-place Louisville (6-3).

Projection: ESPN’s BPI projects Virginia Tech to win by 4.6 points, with a 66.5 percent chance. It is rated as the fifth-highest quality matchup of the day.

TV: Jason Benetti (play-by-play) and Jason Capel (analyst) will call the game for ESPN.

Online: ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app. Must be an ESPN subscriber to access the stream (which is subject to blackout).

Radio: Joe Zagacki will call the game for 560 WQAM, which is streaming live on WQAM.com and the Radio.com app. It’s also on Sirius channel 83 and XM 83 (Internet 83).

Last time out: Miami beat Pittsburgh 69-57 at home last Wednesday. Virginia Tech won 85-80 in overtime at Boston College. 

Series: Miami leads 20-14 but is 6-8 in away games. The Hokies won the last meeting, 66-61, last Feb. 27 in Blacksburg. Miami won the other meeting last year, 74-68, on Feb. 8 in Coral Gables.

Rankings: Miami received 12 votes in the Associated Press top 25, placing 32nd overall. The Canes received 31 votes in the coaches’ poll, placing 28th.

Ratings: Virginia Tech is 39th in KenPom.com’s efficiency ratings (22nd offense, 89th defense). Miami is 32nd (67th offense, 13th defense).

Bracketology: CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm has Miami as a No. 7 seed (and starting off against Providence in Nashville). He has Virginia Tech facing Kansas in the first four. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Miami as a No. 6 seed (and opening against Marquette in Pittsburgh). Virginia Tech is one of his last four in, facing Boise State in the first four.

Twitter: Follow Miami beat writer Matt Porter @mattyports. The official team accounts are @CanesHoops and @Hokies_MBB.

Facebook: Visit the Post’s Hurricanes page, Post on Miami Hurricanes, for news, analysis, photos and videos in your Facebook feed.

Projected starting lineups

MIAMI

2 – Chris Lykes, G, Fr., 5-7, 160

1 — DJ Vasiljevic, G, Soph., 6-3, 195

4 – Lonnie Walker IV, G, Fr., 6-5, 204

3 – Anthony Lawrence II, F, Jr., 6-7, 210

20 – Dewan Huell, F, Soph., 6-11, 236

VIRGINIA TECH

5 — Justin Robinson, G, Jr., 6-1, 180

4 — Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Fr., 6-5, 210

13 — Ahmed Hill, G, Jr., 6-5, 195

10 — Justin Bibbs, G, Sr., 6-5, 220

24 — Kerry Blackshear Jr., F, Jr., 6-10, 260

Players to watch

Ahmed Hill, Virginia Tech

A major reason the Hokies are second in the ACC in scoring (85.1 per game) is the fact they lead the league in 3-point shooting (40.2 percent; 9.4 makes per game). Miami must guard the perimeter effectively to stay in the game. Hill (44.7 percent) is the most prolific outside threat, but Tech will have three or four shooters on the court at any given time. All five starters listed above hit 3s at 38 percent or better.

Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech

The point guard is a sliver of a point behind Duke’s Trevon Duval for the ACC lead in assists (6.0 to 5.9), and is a large reason the Hokies have the second-most dimes per game (17.6). He finds his teammates for efficient shots; Virginia Tech leads the league in field goal percentage (51.3) and points per shot (1.47).

Dewan Huell, Miami

The Hurricanes have little inside presence, ranking last in the ACC in blocks per game (2.5) and offensive rebounds per game (7.5). Saturday is a chance for Huell to assert himself against Blackshear (6.4), but he, Lawrence and Ebuka Izundu will have to try to keep sixth man Chris Clarke (8.7 points, 7.3 rebounds) off the boards.