TV: Actual SECN and virtual SECN
Radio: Mickey: all too real
Stats: Tempo-free wasteland
Today is the last of the home-game opening slate for Tennessee as Virginia Tech comes to town. Virginia Tech, like Tennessee, is 6-1 on the season with a win over Penn State. That being said, the Hokies' only loss of the season was a 17-point affair to Georgetown, which doesn't really have the cachet of Texas.
The Hokes (at least based on glancing at their stats) are trying to be the lo-fi Tennessee, not scoring a ton and relying on solid defense. They're generally balanced, but unlike Tennessee, their guards are actually efficient (Vanessa Panousis and Hannah Young both approach the elusive 1.1 PPWS mark, and can both hit the outside shot). They're tall enough to hang with Tennessee, control the ball well, and will try and stay close. This fits perfectly into, well, every single game Tennessee has played against not-overmatched opponents.
Look, at some point Tennessee is going to figure this out. We've had the same discussion about Tennessee's scoring to begin basically every single season under Holly Warlick, and if we've learned anything, it's that the defense will come ahead of the offense. Tennessee is allowing 0.76 points per possession, so we're well set up for another race to 55.
Offensively, Tennessee will look to push a combination of Diamond DeShields, Mercedes Russell, and Bashaara Graves (with Te'a Cooper shooting a ton of shots given enough minutes). We're still trying to figure out how DeShields matches up with Russell on offense—I'm not sure the spacing will work with all three of them on the court unless DeShields stops driving entirely, which is bad news—but the Lady Vols have time to work on this. Specifically, they have 40 minutes to work on this, because this upcoming road trip will be work.
PREDICTION: 58-53 Tennessee. Come watch here, or you know, spend a couple hours roasting South Carolina. Like we won't be in for that. (Hooper's predicting 71-58 with a late run at the end of the game. So optimistic.)