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29.11.2023

Virginia Tech @ Auburn Game Preview and Pick: Hokies Hang Tough

One of the most underrated matchups in the ACC/SEC Challenge will go down in Auburn tonight, with the Tigers playing host to a scrappy Virginia Tech Hokies team. The Hokies are coming off a blowout loss to Florida Atlantic but have proven they can hang around with big-name opponents, which is why I’ll be targeting them tonight as underdogs.

Game Preview

After opening the season with a tough loss to a good Baylor team, the Auburn Tigers have handled business with four straight wins. While most teams, including Virginia Tech, were playing tough schedules during Feast Week, the Tigers were able to beat up on St. Bonaventure and Notre Dame in their two big non-conference games.

The Tigers held both teams to 60 points or less, as they look to be one of the better defensive teams in the country this season, which isn’t much of a surprise with Bruce Pearl at the helm. Opponents have managed an effective field goal percentage of 41.7% and a three-point percentage of 22.4%, which ranks them 13th and 2nd in those categories, respectively.

While the Tigers are not a team that will force 20 turnovers per game, their playstyle makes it challenging to get open looks and find the open shooter, which is a big reason why they allow just 8.6 assists per game. Not only have they been great at limiting ball movement, but they have been able to create ball movement on offense, averaging 19.8 assists per game.

Auburn’s dynamic duo of Johni Broome and Aden Holloway are walking into a good matchup tonight on that side of the floor. Following their 84-50 loss to Florida Atlantic, the Hokies are 105th in the country in adjusted defensive rating on KenPom. Virginia Tech has two nice wins over Iowa State and Boise State, but on the season, they are allowing an average of 67.9 points per game.

According to sportsbettingapp.com, the Hokies have three good shooters on their team in Sean Pedulla, Hunter Cattoor, and Tyler Nickel, which helps complement big man Lynn Kid. However, even with that depth, the Hokies are 114th in three-point percentage and 111th in effective field goal percentage.

Pick for the Game

Virginia Tech can currently be found as (+9.5) point underdogs in this matchup, and I’ll be backing them for my play. This is not the first challenging matchup the Hokies have played this season, so they will be ready for this level of defensive competition. Against Iowa State, who ranks 6th in adjusted defensive rating on KenPom, the Hokies managed 71 points on 41% shooting while also getting 20 points from the free throw line.

If Auburn can limit the Hokies from deep like they have their other opponents, then Virginia Tech will need to get to the foul line. This is obviously easier said than done, but it’s undoubtedly doable against the Tigers since they allow 21 free throw attempts and 16.4 made free throws per game, which both rank 236th or higher in the country.

Virginia Tech’s defense may also be better than the numbers show, as they are 25th in adjusted defensive shot quality, per ShotQuality.com. If they can play to that level tonight, the Hokies could keep the game close, especially since Auburn is 80th in three-point percentage and 66th in effective field goal percentage.

Recap

  • Virginia Tech (+9.5)(-110) on FanDuel Sportsbook

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