Louisville basketball: Three players to watch for Virginia Tech

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Louisville basketball faces off against Virginia Tech on Wednesday. Who are three players to watch for the Hokies?

ACC basketball is one of the most relentless and unforgiving conferences annually. Now, in 2021, there is a new powerful opponent at the top of the standings with conference matchups just getting rolling.

Virginia Tech has come out of nowhere to get out of the gates fast in the ultra-powerful basketball conference. The Hokies are already 2-0 in the conference and 8-1 overall this season.

They are No. 19 in the newest Associated Press poll which ranks them No. 1 among all ACC schools that find themselves nationally ranked.

The Hokies, led by second. year coach Mike Young, have already defeated the likes of Villanova and Clemson with an odd blowout loss to Penn State sprinkled in the middle. That loss was the only one of the season for Virginia Tech as they continue to roll into 2021. The Hokies have rattled off four wins in a row.

The 7-1 Louisville Cardinals will have their work cut out for them this weekend against their second Top 25 foe of the season. Against the first one they faced (Wisconsin), they did not look ready for the challenge in a game where they were mashed 85-48.

With a good team comes good players. Let’s talk about three players that are the biggest threats to Louisville in this matchup.

F Keve Aluma

Keve Aluma, a 6’9″ redshirt junior, is off to a huge start for the Hokies after transferring in from Wofford after his 2018-19 sophomore campaign. He sat out the 2019-20 season.

Now, in 2020, Aluma is thriving as the featured big man for Virginia Tech.

On the season, he has averaged 16 points, 6.7 rebounds, and a block per game including a 26-point, 3 block outing in their most recent game against Miami.

Aluma is a very good low post player despite just being 6’9″. He has elite footwork in the post and really makes defenders work that are attempting to play defense on him on the low block. His quick, developed footwork gives players all sorts of problems.

He is also a good athlete for the position that can run the floor in transition or get easy putback jams because of the springs he has working for him.

Aluma can also step out and hit the three. He has a very high, quick release on his shot that is very effective for him. Louisville will have to respect him from long range.

One of Aluma’s best qualities is finding crevices in the defense and attacking. He always seems to put himself in the best position on offense by finding the open areas where teammates can easily find him for simple lay-offs.

In the one game that Virginia Tech lost this season, Aluma did not play well shooting just 4-for-11 from the field with 8 points. It was his only single digit point output all season.

This will be Jae’lyn Withers‘ matchup. Keeping him in front and playing disciplined man-to-man defense is going to need to be a point of emphasis for Withers and the rest of the Cardinals.

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