2018 Virginia Tech Hokies Basketball Predictions with Odds and Expert Picks
Virginia Tech has not been overly dominant lately. They have made the tournament two years in a row but haven't won once they got there. And they were seventh in the ACC during the regular season both years. Those aren't results that would get a lot of attention for most schools. But the Hokies have been so bad for so long that getting those kinds of results means that coach Buzz Williams is some kind of wizard. And now Williams has the best team he has had and a chance to take a big step forward. The ACC remains brutal, but the Hokies are the fourth-highest ranked team in the conference. The Hokies! Virginia Tech could travel some really unfamiliar ground if things come together for this team.
Virginia Tech Hokies Additions/Losses
The team loses three players to graduation and two to transfer. Of those, though, the only one that is even remotely concerning is guard Justin Bibbs. As a senior he was second on the team in scoring with 13.3 points per game while also being perhaps their best defender. He went undrafted and is playing in the G-League this year. The only other guy even sort of worthy of mentioning is Devin Wilson, a guard who could be trusted to eat minutes off the bench, though he was more the type to avoid mistakes than one to make a big impact.
The incoming class features three players. The most intriguing is wing Landers Nolley, a four-star recruit from Georgia. His basketball IQ is often praised, and he is a good fit here. Canadian point guard Jon Kabongo isn't likely to play a lot this year and could even redshirt, but in the long term he is promising. And forward Isaiah Wilkins, who has been committed to the Hokies for more than two years, is a prototypical Williams type of player who will probably need some time to find his role.
Virginia Tech Hokies Outlook
When a team doesn't have a lot of elite talent, the next best thing is experience. The Hokies have that - Bibbs is the only one of the top eight contributors last year who isn't back. They start three seniors, and all are solid. Point guard Justin Robinson led the team in both scoring and assists last year and is easy to trust. Chris Clarke is a forward who can guard almost anyone. He tore his ACL in 2017. He was back for all of last year but came off the bench. With another year of recovery and a starting role, he could be in for a big year. He's the kind of player that has really played well for Williams - I'm not saying he is or will be Jimmy Butler or Wes Matthews, but he has things in common for sure. And guard Ahmed Hill can shoot the lights out, though he is incredibly streaky, and he fell into a deep slump last year that stretched through much of conference play.
Center Kerry Blackshear also missed the 2016-17 season but came back to be the third-leading scorer last year. Another year of seasoning could have the redshirt junior ready for a step forward. And the final starter is wing Nickeil Alexander-Walker. If his awkward name reminds you of former Kentucky guard and lottery pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, that's because they are cousins. Alexander-Walker has by far the biggest upside on this team, and he could emerge as a star and a pro. He was solid as a freshman last year but needs to be much more this year.
The biggest concern for this team is likely their depth. The starting five is solid and has plenty of upside. But the bench rotation likely features the three freshmen and two sophomores who weren't consistently strong last year. There could be a drop off, and injuries could be a real concern.
Virginia Tech Hokies Schedule
The team's preseason tournament is the Charleston Classic. There they could run into teams like Purdue and Wichita State - strong programs not heading into their best seasons. The Hokies can win the tournament. And they should win most of their other nonconference games, too. Their draw in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge is Penn State, which is very winnable. The only really true test they play is against Washington in Atlantic City. Washington is the last-ranked team in the poll.
Conference play is what it is - tough because it is the ACC. The toughest opponents are spread out, and they have to play North Carolina only once. It could be worse.
Virginia Tech Hokies Futures Odds and Trends
Ranked 15th in the AP poll, Virginia Tech is tied with several teams as the 23rd choice to win the national title at Bovada at +8000. Oddsmakers aren't buying what this team has to sell.
Virginia Tech Hokies Predictions
It depends what you expect from this team. Are they a true national contender? No. Not at all. But they can finish fourth in the ACC and even make the second weekend of the tournament if the draw works out for them. A win in March would be a big success for this program, and it is achievable. I like the team - but as a spot play, and definitely not a futures option. Their lack of depth makes it hard to really love them, and the conference is just too tough.
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