Preview: Louisville Cardinals vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Cardinals will play their first home game of the new year.
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(Photo of David Johnson, Chris Mack: Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports)

Virginia Tech Hokies (8-1, 2-0 ACC) at Louisville Cardinals (7-1, 2-0 ACC)

- Tipoff: Wednesday, January 6th at 6:35 p.m. EST
- Location: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
- How To Watch: ACC Network
- How To Listen: WKRD 790/WHAS 840
- Betting Favorite: Louisville -6.0
- All-Time Series: Louisville leads 35-8
- Last Meeting: Louisville won 68-52 on Mar. 1, 2020 (KFC Yum! Center - Louisville, Ky.)

Projected Starting Lineups

Louisville

  • F Samuell Williamson (6-7, 210, So.)
  • F Dre Davis (6-5, 220, Fr.)
  • C Jae'Lyn Withers (6-8, 215, R-Fr.)
  • G Carlik Jones (6-2, 185, Gr.)
  • G David Johnson (6-5, 210, So.)

Virginia Tech

  • F Keve Aluma (6-9, 235, R-Jr.)
  • F Justyn Mutts (6-7, 230, R-Jr.)
  • G Wabissa Bede (6-1, 195, Gr.)
  • G Naheim Alleyne (6-4, 195, So.)
  • G Tyrece Radford (6-2, 200, R-So.)

Main Storylines

Here are the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Louisville's matchup with Virginia Tech: Points of Emphasis: Louisville vs. Virginia Tech

Comparison

See how the Cardinals stack up against the Hokies, and who the statistical models favor: Tale of The Tape & Prediction: Louisville vs. Virginia Tech

Game Notes

Louisville

  • Louisville will play its first home game of the new year as the No. 25 Cardinals face the No. 19/20 Virginia Tech Hokies on Jan. 6 in the KFC Yum! Center. The teams are two of the three teams with a 2-0 record atop the ACC standings.
  • After playing its first two ACC games on the road, five of the Cardinals’ next seven games in January will be at home. In its first game of 2021, Louisville (7-1, 2-0 ACC), ranked No. 25 in the USA Today poll, won its third straight in prevailing 76-64 at Boston College on Saturday as the Cardinals held the Eagles to a season-low 33.3 percent shooting from the field, marking the fifth time this season UofL has limited its opponent to below 40 percent accuracy.
  • Louisville has started with at least a 7-1 record through eight games for the 10th time in the last 13 years. UofL has won at least eight of its first nine games on nine occasions over the past 12 years entering Wednesday’s game.
  • Louisville has a 57-16 record in its conference home games over the last nine years (.781). UofL has the fourth-most conference home wins in its seven years in the ACC with a 42-13 ACC home record (9-1 last season).
  • Louisville’s defense continues to improve, leading the ACC in field goal percentage defense (.386, 33rd in the nation) and ranking 29th nationally in scoring defense (61.8 ppg). UofL is 23rd nationally in adjusted defense by KenPom.
  • David Johnson has scored 17 or more points in five of the last six games. He has made 7-of10 threes in his last two games and has nearly tripled his three-point production from a year ago, burying 14-of-31 threes this season (5-of23 threes in 2019-20).
  • ACC assists leader Carlik Jones is the only player in the ACC to rank among the top 15 in scoring (8th in the ACC, 16.4 ppg), rebounding (15th, 6.6 rpg) and assists (first, 5.1 apg). Last season at Radford, the graduate transfer was the only player in the nation to average at least 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, and was one of just 16 players in Division I men’s basketball to do so since the 1996-97 season. He handed out his 500th career assist at Boston College (36 at Louisville, 469 at Radford).
  • Louisville has won its first home game of the new year five of the last six years. Louisville has a 42-13 record during the month of January over the last five years (.764).
  • Louisville’s defense continues to improve, currently leading the ACC in field goal percentage defense (.386, 33rd in the nation) and ranking 29th nationally in scoring defense (61.8 ppg). The Cardinals held Boston College to a season-low 33.3 percent shooting from the field, marking the fifth time this season UofL has limited its opponent to below 40 percent accuracy from the field (four under 35 percent). The Eagles did not make a field goal over the final 7:04 of the first half.
  • The Cardinals limited Kentucky to a season-low in scoring (59 points) and field goal percentage (.345). Louisville limited Pitt to a season-low 54 points, marking the 11th time the Cardinals have held an ACC opponent under 60 points in Coach Chris Mack’s third season (UofL is 10-1 in those games).
  • The Cardinals are 2-0 in conference play with both wins coming on the road for the third time in the last 20 years (also 2009, 2014).
  • Louisville has produced double-digit rebounding margins in its two ACC games, including a 43-30 edge over Boston College. Louisville held a 45-26 rebounding advantage over Pitt on Dec. 22, including grabbing a season-high 15 offensive rebounds. It was the largest margin for the Cardinals in a conference game since also finishing plus-19 in a win over Notre Dame on March 3, 2019. The Cardinals’ +7.3 rebounding margin is fourth in the ACC.
  • Louisville’s offense produced its highest scoring total in six games at Boston College. UofL’s 8-of17 three-point accuracy (.471) against the Eagles was its best of the season and matched its most threes in a game this season. The Cardinals’ offense ranks 44th nationally by KenPom. Louisville’s 47.2 field goal percentage is fifth in the ACC (72nd in the nation). Louisville has shot 50 percent or better in six halves this season.
  • David Johnson scored a career-high 20 points at Boston College while connecting on a career-best four three-pointers, all in the first half. He added eight rebounds and three assists. Johnson has made a combined 7-of-10 threes in his last two games. He was honored as ACC Player of the Week for games Dec. 21-27. Johnson also grabbed eight rebounds, his second-highest total of the season. In eight games, Johnson has nearly tripled his three-point production from a year ago, burying 14-of-31 threes this season (5-of-23 three in 2019-20).
  • Carlik Jones handed out his 500th career assist at Boston College (36 at Louisville, 469 at Radford), part of his 15 points and game-high nine rebounds and six assists. The ACC assists leader, Jones has had at least six assists in four of his seven games this season.
  • Sophomore guard Josh Nickelberry made his season debut at Pitt after missing the first five games due to a knee injury. He made a threepointer in each of the last three games. He drew two charges defensively at Boston College while Jae’Lyn Withers drew three charges in the game.
  • Louisville is No. 16 in the Sagarin Ratings, No. 25 by KenPom, No. 33 in the NCAA NET, and No. 45 in ESPN’s College BPI through Jan. 3.

Virginia Tech

  • Playing its first game in the New Year, the No. 19/20 Virginia Tech men's basketball team will play at RV/No. 25 Louisville on Wednesday.
  • The Hokies and Cardinals played each other once last season, a 68-52 setback on the road for the Hokies.
  • Tech on Wednesday will be trying to accomplish something that hasn't happened since 1991, a win vs. UofL. The Cards own the all-time series 35-8, dating back to 1979.
  • This will be Mike Young's second game vs. UofL (he’s 0-1), but his fourth vs. Chris Mack (is 1-2). They were 1-1 vs. each other when they were at Wofford and Xavier. Mack won a triple OT thriller the first time in 2010, while Young won 56-55 in 2012.
  • Only two times has Tech started ACC play 3-0 since it joined the league in 2004-05, with doing so in 2006-07 and 2018-19. A win Saturday would be the third.
  • The Hokies have started the season 8-1, which they haven't done in two years. Tech started the Sweet 16 year (2018-19) 14-1 and got up to as high as No. 9 in the AP poll.
  • After averaging just 2.5 steals through its first seven games of the season, Tech has kicked it up a notch defensively and swiped 21 steals its last two contests.
  • After already setting his career high for points twice this season, Keve Aluma did it again with his best performance yet (career-high 26 PTS). The redshirt junior also filled up the stat sheet, owning six rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
  • Justyn Mutts, who only had cracked the double figures scoring plateau twice coming into the Miami (Fla.) game this season, exploded for a season-high 15 points. The Delaware transfer almost had a double-double, too, grabbing nine rebounds.
  • Getting up by as many as 17 points over Miami (Fla.), the Hokies held off a 'Canes comeback to win by two, 80-78. Getting stellar play from its bigs, Tech got a combined 41 points and 15 rebounds from forwards Justyn Mutts and Keve Aluma.
  • The first NET rankings came out on Monday, Jan. 4 and the Hokies came in at No. 34, the fourth best in the ACC. In the first NET rankings of the 2019-20 season, the Hokies were at No. 62. Tech went 3-7 against quadrant I teams last year and went 4-9 the year before that. Tech's best win of the season came against thenNo. 3/3 Michigan St, which finished seventh in NET. Tech finished the 2019-20 season ranked No. 92. In 2018-19, the Hokies, after making a run to the Sweet 16, finished in the final NET rankings at 12th. Ironically, Wofford, which was coached by Mike Young at the time, came in two spots below (14).
  • For the first time in the Mike Young era, the Hokies had four straight games of scoring in double digits in the fastbreak points category, topping the previous high of three straight contests, which was done two times prior to this season.

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