(Photo of Carlik Jones: Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Needing a crucial win for both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, Louisville got what they needed and escaped Cameron Indoor Stadium with an 80-73 overtime win over Duke.
Next up for the Cardinals, they will play their final road game of the season and face the Virginia Tech Hokies. Tipoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Mar. 3 at 7:00pm EST, and can be viewed on ESPNJ2.
Here are a couple of the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Cardinals' matchup with the Hokies:
Continuing to Flourish
Heading into their first game with Louisville, Virginia Tech was riding a decent amount of momentum, as they had won eight of their last nine games. Even after their loss to the Cardinals back on Jan. 6, the Hokies barely missed a step.
Virginia Tech has won seven of their last ten games since the first matchup with Louisville, all in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They've notched a win against Duke, as well as an impressive 14-point victory against Virginia in the Commonwealth Clash.
Even more importantly, the Hokies are in line to receive a double bye in the ACC Tournament, as they currently sit at third in the ACC standing. Louisville is right behind them at fourth with the final double bye, making the rematch that much more important in terms of the postseason.
The Man in the Middle
Like in the first game against Louisville, most of Virginia Tech's efficiency on both ends of the floor is directly because the efforts of redshirt junior Keve Aluma.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward is leading Virginia Tech in points (15.9 ppg), rebounds (8.0 rpg) and blocks (1.4 bpg). He's also very adept at drawing contact and getting to the free throw line, as he leads the ACC in free throw attempts (105) and is second in makes (76).
On a Virginia Tech squad that is a middle of the pack team when it comes to their rebounding, but Louisville will have to keep tabs on Aluma on the defensive end. His 2.6 offensive rebounds per game are good for sixth in the ACC.
The Hokies make up for their lack of size (76.4" - 246th in D1) with a plethora of serviceable guards, however, they have not had their full compliment of ball handlers over the last month.
Tyrece Radford was suspended back on Jan. 25 after being arrested for a DUI and weapons charge, but made his return to the Hokies in their Feb. 23 loss to Georgia Tech. He is their second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder at 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
During that stretch, Jalen Cone suffered an ankle injury in the Hokies' Feb. 6 overtime win at Miami. He is out indefinitely and has yet to return to the court.
Regular starters Nahiem Alleyne and Wabissa Bede are still operating at a high caliber, as Alleyne is the third Hokie to average double figures (10.2) and Bede has the third-best assist to turnover ratio in the ACC (2.26).
Between those four and sixth-man Hunter Cattoor, the Hokies have made a living on the three ball. 41.6% of their field goal attempts are three-pointers, and they connect on 35.3% of them.
You can follow Louisville Report for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on Twitter:
Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI