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The Virginia Tech men's basketball team finds itself near the top of the ACC standings. Their 3-1 mark currently ranks them second on the league, and Tech fans are excited about the possibility of the making the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
What has led the Hokies to such a good record, with victories over storied programs such as Duke and UNC? For one, Virginia Tech is shooting the ball much better than a lot of people give them credit for.
The Tech teams takes a lot of abuse at times on the message boards for not being able to shoot. But after four games against ACC teams, the Hokies are shooting 47.7% in ACC play, which is good for fourth in the conference.
As far as three-point shooting goes, the Hokies have been lights out in their four ACC games. Virginia Tech has nailed 18-of-44 three-pointers in ACC contests, good for 40.9%. In their last five games overall, the Hokies are 30-of-61 from downtown, almost 50%. That's very impressive.
To top if off, the Hokies haven't been letting their opponents connect from the outside either. The opposition is just 22-of-70 from the outside for 31.4%, ranking the Hokies third in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage defense.
Meanwhile, Zabian Dowdell is making a strong case that he should be named First Team All-ACC at the end of the season. Dowdell is Virginia Tech's top scorer and could potentially move into the top 10 all-time at Tech by the end of the season. He is averaging 17.3 points per game this season.
In ACC play alone, Dowdell has been even more impressive. He is averaging exactly 20 points per game, which ranks him third in the conference, behind just Al Thornton (FSU, 23.8 ppg) and Gavin Grant (NC State, 20.8 ppg). Dowdell has scored 23 points in each of his last two games against UNC and Florida State.
Dowdell has proven that he is much more than a scorer. He also leads the conference in steals in ACC games, averaging four per game in four ACC games. He is well ahead of second place Ty Lawson (UNC, 2.75 per game) and Keaton Copeland (Miami, 2.75 per game). Surprisingly Jamon Gordon is not in the top 10 for ACC games, but he is 2nd in the conference for all games, averaging 2.5 steals per game.
Dowdell is second in the conference in ACC games in the important category of assist/turnover ratio, with a mark of 2.80. He has turned the ball over just five times in four ACC games, while dishing out 14 assists.
Finally, showing his importance to his team, Dowdell is playing 36.5 minutes per game, which ranks fifth in the conference in ACC games. Only Jared Dudley (BC, 39.6 mpg), Jon Scheyer (Duke, 39 mpg), Gavin Grant (NC State, 37.75 mpg) and Josh McRoberts (Duke, 37.67 mpg) are ahead of Dowdell. This shows that the Hokies have improved their team depth, because it was not uncommon in the past to find two or three Virginia Tech players in the top 10 in minutes played. But this year, only Dowdell is in the top 10 so far.
If a First Team All-ACC team was released tomorrow, here is how it might look.
In case, you're wondering, Virginia Tech's RPI did not drop after losing to Florida State on Wednesday night. The Hokies entered the game at #35 according to RealTimeRPI.com, while the Seminoles were #25. FSU moved up to #22 with their win, while the Hokies remained at #35. Tech's strength of schedule jumped up to 39th. FSU has played the ninth toughest schedule in the nation, so they were battle tested heading into Wednesday night's game.
Virginia Tech has four games remaining in the month of January. They are home
against Maryland (#32 RPI), at Miami (#161), at Georgia Tech (#28) and home
against NC State (#143).
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