Selection Sunday is just over a month away, and the University of Miami and Virginia Tech are deadlocked in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings with 5-5 league records.
Both teams are eager to add W’s and boost their RPI, so when the whistle blows at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Watsco Center, expect a dogfight.
The Hokies are hungry after losing 71-48 to ninth-ranked state rival Virginia. The Hurricanes, who have been up and down all season, hope to build on their 84-79 road victory at North Carolina State.
Three UM players scored career highs against the Wolfpack — Davon Reed (26 points, including seven three-pointers), Anthony “Amp” Lawrence (19) and Ebuka Izundu (16).
The contributions of Lawrence and Izundu were especially uplifting, said UM coach Jim Larrañaga. Izundu had been scoreless in the previous three games, and was averaging 3.8 points for the season. In addition to combining to outscore the Wolfpack bench 35-2, the Miami duo also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“We got major contributions from two guys off the bench, and we’d love to have that every night,” said Larrañaga.
With three of their next four games at home, the Hurricanes (15-7) have a chance to build momentum before a daunting stretch to close the regular season. UM is 23-2 at home over its past 25 games and 10-2 at the Watsco Center this season.
After the game against the Hokies, the Canes travel to play at No. 6 Louisville, then return home to face Georgia Tech and Clemson. Their final four games are at No. 9 Virginia, at home against No. 21 Duke, at Virginia Tech and at No. 15 Florida State.
The Hokies (16-6) present “all kinds of problems,” Larrañaga said, because they lead the ACC in getting to the free-throw line, are among the league leaders in field-goal percentage, and also can shoot the three. Virginia Tech’s leaders are Seth Allen, Zach LeDay and Justin Bibbs.
Hokies coach Buzz Williams expects the game to be won or lost in the paint.
“Fifty-seven percent of their shots in the last five games have been at the rim, and 61 percent of our shots in the last five games have been at the rim,” Williams told Tech Talk. “They get there a little differently than we do. They’re longer...and they’re second in the league in offensive rebounding, right under North Carolina.”
Wednesday: UM men vs. Virginia Tech
When/where: 9 p.m.; Watsco Center.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560.
Records: UM (15-7, 5-5 ACC), Va. Tech (16-6, 5-5).
Scouting report: UM has won six of its past seven games against Virginia Tech and went 2-1 against the Hokies last season. The Canes have won 23 of their past 25 home games. … The Hokies beat Duke early in the ACC season, and are among the league leaders in shooting percentage and getting to the free-throw line.