Virginia Tech: ACC Outlook

Dorenzo Hudson has struggled this season and the Hokies could really use him at his best.

Record to date: 11-3

Strength so far: Free-throw shooting. The Hokies are 26th nationally in free-throw shooting (74.8%).

Needs improvement: Drawing fouls. Virginia Tech’s free throw rate is pretty good (38.8, 124th nationally) but it is their lowest ranking in that category since 2006. Last year’s team had a 40.7 rating and the 2010 group’s rate was 42.9. Erick Green seems like he should draw more fouls, but he draws just 4.0 per 40 minutes. Malcolm Delaney drew 6.8 fouls in 2010 (32nd nationally) and 5.3 in 2011. The Hokies shoot foul shots well and so much of their offensive identity is designed around getting to the line. In three losses, the Hokies have averaged early ten fewer attempts (13.3) than in wins (23.1).

Most important player: Dorenzo Hudson. The senior guard has struggled on and off this season and is averaging 11.8 points, but in losses it’s been particularly bad: 30% shooting (22% from three) and 6.7 points. In wins, he has shot 43% and averaged 13.2 points. He’s played much better recently, averaging 14.3 points on 48% shooting in his last four games, which is a good sign. And hopefully for the Hokies, the situation that involved former Hokie kicker Cody Journell robbing Hudson’s house resulting in Hudson and his roommates getting into an altercation with Journell and friends afterwards will not get any worse. To read about that craziness, click here.

Reason for optimism: The emergence of multiple offensive threats. Erick Green has been consistent all year, leading the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game on 49.3% shooting. Hudson is more than capable of getting back on track and still averages 11.8 points. Jarrell Eddie has broken out, averaging 9.6 points and shooting 49.4% (52.5% from three, 21-of-40). Freshmen Robert Brown and Dorian Finney-Smith have been up and down but have shown plenty of flashes; Brown averages 8.6 points; Finney-Smith has three double-doubles and seven double-digit scoring outings.

Reason for pessimism: Inconsistent offensive options. Hudson, Brown and Finney-Smith have all been erratic enough to think a bad night from any (or all) could mean a Hokie loss, even to a bad ACC team. Plus, Seth Greenberg’s Hokies always seem to find the banana peel.

Surprising stat: Virginia Tech leads the nation in three-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 24.1% from three.

Most likely wins (7): @Wake (1/7), @BC (1/14), Clemson (2/4), BC (2/12), Ga. Tech (2/18), UVA (2/21), NCST (3/4)

Most likely losses (3): UNC (1/19), @UVA (1/22), @Duke (2/25),

Toss-ups (6): FSU (1/10), @Maryland (1/28), @FSU (2/16), Duke (2/2), @Miami (2/9), @Clemson (3/1)

Best-case scenario: 12-4. This team has played a pretty tough schedule competitively.

Worst-case scenario: 7-9. The ACC is too terrible for them to lose more, but this would be a disappointing record.

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