For Virginia Tech, the numbers just don’t add up.
The Hokies like to think they should be an NCAA Tournament contender. But their record says they’re in the Atlantic Coast Conference basement.
Slumping Tech (8-7, 0-4) carries a four-game ACC losing streak into Saturday evening’s game against surging Notre Dame (10-5, 4-1) when the Hokies will try to justify their lofty aspirations.
This is a Virginia Tech team, after all, that has been to the NCAA Tournament in four of the past five years, was projected this season as a top-five ACC team, and even now is ranked No. 31 by Kenpom.com.
On Wednesday night the Hokies lost their third in a row in typically aggravating fashion. They led by four at archrival Virginia late before failing to score in the final 3:14 of a 54-52 defeat.
“We are too good of a basketball team. We have too much experience on this team,” said Tech’s Storm Murphy, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. “We need to continue to have faith and confidence.”
Winning games by an average margin of 26.8 points and losing by an average of 7.3, Tech has struggled to put teams away, an odd characteristic with so many veterans in the starting lineup, including top scorer Keve Aluma (15.7 points per game).
Notre Dame has had no such problem, riding a six-game winning streak and playing its best basketball of the season as conference play heats up. Its first three ACC wins came by a combined 10 points. The Fighting Irish also found a way to defeat 10th-ranked Kentucky of the SEC, 66-62 on Dec. 11.
Dane Goodwin leads the Irish in scoring (15.4 points per game) and 3-point shooting (45.7 percent), playing alongside Blake Wesley (14.7 points per game) in the backcourt.
In Wednesday’s 72-56 win over Clemson, Goodwin scored a team-high 21 points and the Irish held one of the nation’s best 3-point-shooting teams to 6-of-32 accuracy (18.8%) from beyond the arc.
“We did a good job in our zone in the first half, playing it wide and taking away shooters,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
Brey will ask for more of the same on Saturday.
–Field Level Media
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