LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville will play its first Atlantic Coast Conference home game against the other Virginia team Wednesday night at the KFC Yum! Center.
Not the Virginia team that has treated the Cardinals like the junior varsity from the moment U of L joined the ACC in 2015.
This will be the Virginia team that Louisville has treated like the JV.
Not Virginia, the program that aspires to win the league and get to the Final Four.
It’s Virginia Tech, which hasn’t finished in the top four in the ACC in a decade.
If Louisville has lost 11 times in six seasons against Virginia, the Cardinals are 7-0 against the Hokies since the programs were realigned into the same conference.
Louisville has been defeated by Boston College. And Pitt. And Wake Forest and Georgia Tech as an ACC member.
The Cards have not stumbled against the Hokies. Tech is the only ACC program that has not beaten Louisville — at least not since 1991 when Tech and U of L battled in the Metro Conference.
The Cards have won 16 straight and 27 of 29 against Tech.
The teams are scheduled to play twice this season: Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. here and again Feb. 13 in Blacksburg. Tech, U of L and North Carolina State are the only 2-0 ACC teams.
Tech’s time as an ACC lightweight are likely ending. In Mike Young, the Hokies hired a formidable replacement for Buzz Williams.
Young was terrific at Wofford, winning 20 games or more six times in his final 10 seasons. Five of his teams landed in the NCAA Tournament, including his feisty 2019 team that won 30 gams, toppled Seton Hall and played Kentucky to the wire before losing 62-56 in the NCAA second round in Jacksonville, Florida.
Young has no issues with the three-point shot. The Hokies rank third in the ACC in three-pointers made per game, averaging nearly nine. They’re also fifth in three-point accuracy at better than 36%.
Tech has three guys — Jalen Cone, Nahiem Alleyne and Hunter Cattoor — who are dangerous from distance.
When Tech beat No. 3 Villanova, the Hokies made 10 of 20 threes. Young’s team made 20 of 37 shots from distance against lowly Coppin State.
“I think that if you look statistically that would jump out at you, that they shoot a lot of threes,” Louisville head coach Chris Mack said. “And that’s certainly a concern.
“But the bigger concern is how they get those threes. They get the ball in the paint.
“They have a horse in (Keve) Aluma. He’s really skilled. He can really pass. (Justyn) Mutts at the four is a terrific passer. Those guys do damage in the paint. They also have some guys who can get in the lane on you, whether it’s (Wabissa) Bede or (Tyrece) Radford.
“And they collapse the defense. That’s how a large majority of their threes are generated. Certainly they run a lot for Jalen Cone when he comes in the game.
“But I just think that we have to keep the ball out of the paint so that our defenders on the guys that are shooting the ball are in better position and they’re not in all-out recovery mode.
“That’s a bigger key than just defending the three. It’s how are those generated and having the ability to stop that.”
The analytics project it will be a one- or two-possession game. Ken Pomeroy’s formula forecasts Louisville winning, 67-64. At Bart Torvik’s site, the score is Louisville 68, Virginia Tech 63. Jeff Sagarin likes the Cards by 5.91.
“I just think it's a step up (against Tech),” Mack said.
“It's a team that's playing with a lot of confidence, a team that a year ago had a lot of young guys and now has a lot different frontcourt that's as good as anybody in our league.”
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