Previewing Virginia Tech

North Carolina is looking to recover from its stunning blowout loss to Florida State. A road win at Virginia Tech would be a good first step. Thursday's tip-off at Cassell Coliseum is set for 9 p.m. on ESPN.

North Carolina (15-3, 2-1) vs. Virginia Tech (11-6, 0-3)
Blacksburg, Va. -- Cassell Coliseum
9:00pm -- ESPN (John Saunders, Jay Bilas)

Quotables

"We're not playing fast enough. We've got to get out in transition. Our wing guys aren't running hard enough." – Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg

"We've played these games over the last three, four years, they've always been competitive games and they've always been in that 66 to 70-ish range. But we've also been able to get some easy baskets. We've also been able to have some room and rhythm shots and made some plays in transition. We've just got to make good decisions in transition." – Greenberg on playing UNC

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Virginia Tech enters Thursday's contest with an 11-6 (0-3 ACC) record. Head coach Seth Greenberg toughened up his nonconference schedule this season after finding his team on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament's bubble one too many times, but the Hokies failed to capitalize with a signature win. Despite avoiding any bad losses out of conference – Virginia Tech dropped games to Syracuse, Minnesota and Kansas State – Greenberg's squad took a nose dive in ACC play by opening with three straight losses to Wake Forest (58-55), Florida State (63-59) and Boston College (61-59).

Green a Game-Time Decision: Junior point guard and leading scorer Erick Green sprained the LCL in his left knee in practice last Thursday and sat out Virginia Tech's loss at Boston College. As of Wednesday evening, Green was labeled as a game-time decision, but Greenberg told the listeners of "Tech Talk Live" on Monday night that he expects Green to play against North Carolina, according to the Washington Post. The Winchester, Va. product is averaging 16.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. His current streak of 18 straight games in double figures is the longest in the ACC and he is the only player in the league's top-10 for both scoring and assists.

If Green Doesn't Start… Look for backup point guard Marquis Rankin to start despite a rough outing against Boston College. The Charlotte, N.C. freshman scored four points on 0-of-8 shooting with four rebounds and three assists before fouling out in 23 minutes of play. Rankin is averaging 2.0 points and 1.3 assists in 11.6 minutes of play this season.

Streaky Shooter: Fifth-year senior Dorenzo Hudson is the lone other Hokie to average double figures (11.4 points per game), but the Charlotte, N.C. native has made a career of the feast-or-famine approach. Hudson has scored eight points or less nine times this season, while scoring 15 or more five times, including a season-high 31 against Florida International. He is connecting on 39. 1 percent of his field goal attempts (63-of-161) and just 22.6 percent of his 3-pointers (12-of-53).

Freshman Rising: Dorian Finney-Smith wasted little time in showcasing his skills by posting a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds against East Tennessee State in his collegiate debut. The 6-foot-8, 192-pound forward is averaging 6.8 points per game and leads ACC rookies in both rebounding (8.2) and assists (2.5). and is tied in double-doubles.


Eddie
Free Throw Efficiency: Three Hokie starters – Green, Hudson and forward Jarell Eddie – have combined to shoot 88.3 percent (143-of-162) from the charity stripe this season.

Just the Facts: Virginia Tech has been solid defensively this season, ranking fifth in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (.396) and leading the league in 3-point field goal defense (.262), but the problems have come on the other end of the court. Despite a solid 35.7 3-point field goal percentage (4th ACC), the Hokies rank ninth in the league with a 43.6 field goal percentage.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Hokies, 64-61, on Jan. 13, 2011 in Chapel Hill. UNC trailed by 16 points in the first half, but rallied behind John Henson (17 points), Tyler Zeller (16) and a suffocating defensive effort. Harrison Barnes scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Virginia Tech, 61-13. UNC has won six of the last seven and 24 of the last 27 meetings.

Projected Starters:
11 Erick Green (6-3, 185, Jr.) - 16.1 ppg, 3.2 apg
5 Dorenzo Hudson (6-5, 220, Sr.) - 11.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg
31 Jarell Eddie (6-7, 218, So.) - 9.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg
15 Dorian Finney-Smith (6-8, 192, Fr.) - 6.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.5 apg
14 Victor Davila (6-8, 242, Sr.) - 7.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
1 Robert Brown (6-5, 190, Fr.) - 7.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg
4 Cadarian Raines (6-9, 238, So.) - 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
42 C.J. Barksdale (6-8, 232, Fr.) - 3.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg
10 Marquis Rankin (6-1, 165, Fr.) - 2.0 ppg, 1.3 apg

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(Photos by US Presswire)

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