Why is Virginia Tech's Game Against Bradley the Most Important Game in the ACC This Weekend?

By Brian Swanson
Peter Casey – USA TODAY Sports

The most important game in the ACC this weekend will be when Virginia Tech takes on Bradley on Saturday Dec. 22 at the Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Both of these teams have current records of 8-and-2, and have a lot of potential moving forward. Virginia Tech has lost two of their last three games; while Bradley is riding a three game winning streak including a blow out win against Georgia Southern, who handed Virginia Tech their most recent loss.

The Hokies have been one of the top scoring teams in the country up to now, but with a couple of loses against teams they should have beat, they need to bounce back. Bradley plays superb defense, especially senior guard Dyricus Simms- Edwards who records 3 steals per game. Virginia Tech’s top three scorers also each turn the ball over at least twice a game, which plays in the favor of the Bradley Braves.

Hokies’ head coach James Johnson has lost depth due to the recent injury of freshman forward Marshall Wood. Starting big men Cadarian Raines and C.J. Barksdale will undoubtedly see their minutes increased as they both currently play about 22-23 minutes per game. Off the bench coach Johnson will also have to increase the role of freshman forward Joey Van Zegeren who, at 6’10” and 225 lbs., has only averaged around 14 minutes per contest. In those limited minutes Van Zegeren has been reasonably efficient averaging 4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and almost one block per game.

The big three on the Hokies; Erick Green, Jarell Eddie, and Robert Brown; will have to continue their scoring and facilitating in the offense to win against a strong Bradley foe. Eddie has recently slipped in his 3-point percentage, but all shooters go through slumps and he is due for a solid shooting game. Brown can score at a high level at times, but in the past two Virginia Tech games he has only scored four in each. Some consistency out of him, especially in games where Eddie is struggling from the floor, is necessary.

Green is the No. 2 scorer in the country, scoring a shade under 25 per game. He is dependable game in and game out, and hasn’t scored under 20 points in any game this season. He does it all including his 4.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and nearly two steals each game.

Virginia Tech players will struggle from time to time throughout the year, but Mr. Consistency Erick Green will have to be aggressive in times of adversity for the Hokies to be successful late in the season. They have the tools but need a burst of confidence to ride into inter-conference play.

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