When Virginia Tech takes the court on Friday night, they will be looking to avenge last season's loss
at the hands of the Saint Louis Billikens.
Last season, the Hokies met the Billikens early in their campaign in the opening game of the 2K Classic in Madison Square Garden on November 17th, 2017.
Virginia Tech was a heavy favorite in the game, but Saint Louis came out much more prepared. The Billikens ended up taking the 77-71 victory in a game that they controlled for almost it's entirety. The loss was the first in 8 games for Virginia Tech against Saint Louis.
Justin Robinson has not forgotten the disappointing result from over a year ago and won't be overlooking Saint Louis this time.
"I think the matchup with Saint Louis is kind of a big one for us since they knocked us off last year at MSG," said Robinson in an interview with Andy Katz
this week. "I just think it's something that we are going to take as a big test for us, to try to revenge."
In the 2017 contest, rebounding was a main advantage that Saint Louis had over Virginia Tech. The Billikens out-rebounded
the Hokies 43-33 in that game.
So far this season, Saint Louis has had an advantage in that category again. They are 22nd in the country in rebound margin
at 6.2, while the Hokies are just 83rd nationally at 3.2.
However, that is the only significant category that Saint Louis has an advantage over Virginia Tech in this season. In KemPom's adjusted offense ranking
, for example, the Hokies are 12th, while the Billikens are 205th while defensively, Virginia Tech ranks 25th compared to Saint Louis ranking 44th.
On paper, Virginia Tech is the much better team. Yet as they found out last season, the matchup on paper isn't always the way the game plays out. That is even more true in March, where anything can happen.
The Hokies are aware of all of these factors, and that is why they are not overlooking Saint Louis in the least. Buzz Williams and his team are focused on their opportunity to get some redemption against the Billikens and win their 1st NCAA Tournament game in over a decade, not looking ahead to a game that isn't a guarantee.
"I think our returning players remember the hollowness that we played with at the Garden," said Williams on Tech Talk Live
this week. "At this stage, obviously, if you don’t have energy from start to finish you have no chance. I don’t anticipate that we’ll have that issue this time playing them."
While Virginia Tech has been rewarded for their strong season with a 4 seed, the Hokies know that their seed won't matter once the ball is tipped Friday night against a Saint Louis team focused on pulling off another major upset.
Photo Credit: Bobby Murray
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