#36 Virginia Tech Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #8 ACC
For Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams and the Hokie fan base, the 2015-16 season was a big step forward in the rebuilding process. The Hokies won 20 games and went to the NIT. When Williams took the job in Blacksburg two years ago after leaving Marquette, it was a bit of a head scratcher as he had things rolling with the Golden Eagles. But the reality is when you get an opportunity to coach at an ACC program, it’s hard to pass up and combined with the support of a savvy athletic director in Whit Babcock, the future is bright for this program.
2015-16 Record: 20-15, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Buzz Williams
Coach Record: 31-37 at Virginia Tech, 184-123 overall
Who’s Out:
Jalen Hudson is the biggest loss from last season for Virginia Tech. Hudson transferred from the program to Florida in the offseason. The biggest thing about Hudson’s departure is the scoring void that will need to be filled by other players. Hudson averaged 8.4 points per game and showed some flashes of being a very explosive scorer when he scored 28 points in a win over Princeton in the NIT.
Who’s In:
Tyrie Jackson will to contribute right away as a point guard this season. Jackson is a three-star recruit according to 247 Sports and is one of those under the radar type of players that Coach Williams seems to find on a regular basis and develop into a big time contributor over the course of time. Khadim Sy should also make an immediate impact at power forward for Virginia Tech. Sy has plenty of offers from other power five programs such as Virginia, Georgia Tech, Purdue and Georgetown out of the Big East Conference. Junior college transfer Ty Outlaw will also suit up after missing last year with an illness.
Who to Watch:
Forward Zach LeDay is back to lead a very balanced offensive attack for the Hokies. LeDay averaged 15.5 points per game last season and was very dominant on the glass, along with being an effective shot blocker. Redshirt senior Seth Allen provided instant offense for Virginia Tech scoring 14.7 points per game last season. It will be important for Allen to get his field goal percentage well north of 40 percent this season in order to help the Hokies become even more dangerous offensively. Justin Bibbs is a junior guard that can stretch opposing defenses with his sharp shooting prowess from the perimeter. Bibbs shot 45 percent from behind the three-point line while averaging 11.7 points per game. Sophomore Kerry Blackshear, Jr. will provide more rebounding down low to complement LeDay and is a very effective shooter, connecting on 55.3 percent of his shots from the floor last season.
Final Projection:
A trip to the Wooden Legacy over Thanksgiving weekend will provide a good litmus test right away to see how good Virginia Tech will be this season. The Hokies will face New Mexico in the first round and potentially Texas A&M in the second round of the tournament. Michigan will be the opposition for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on November 30th in Blacksburg. Mississippi visits on December 11th to highlight the rest of the non-conference schedule. Duke visits Cassell Coliseum to kickoff conference play and will set the tone for a very tough gauntlet for the Hokies.  Syracuse, Notre Dame. Louisville, Miami and Virginia highlight the home part of the ACC schedule. The road schedule has trips to North Carolina, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Miami as well. The key as a whole for Virginia Tech to protect the home court as much as possible and get a couple road wins to get to around ten conference wins and be right there in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament berth this season. Bottom line, things are on the upswing for the Hokies under the direction of Coach Williams and will only to continue to gradually get better and better over the long haul.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Seth Allen, Redshirt Senior, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Justin Bibbs, Senior, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Justin Robinson, Sophomore, Guard, 7.3 points per game
Zach LeDay, Redshirt Senior, Forward, 15.5 points per game
Kerry Blackshear Jr, Sophomore, Forward, 6.2 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.0 (134th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 72.6 (195, 12)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.9 (130, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.1 (152, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (296, 14)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.8 (158, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.7 (172, 10)
Rebound Margin: -0.7 (212, 13)
Assists Per Game: 12.2 (252, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (184, 12)