|No. 8 Virginia faces in-state nemesis Virginia Tech|
With all of the success that Virginia has garnered over the past handful of seasons, the Cavaliers' 2.5-hour trip down I-81 to Blacksburg has been less triumphant recently.
As Virginia Tech continues to improve and gain national recognition on the hardwood, they've dispatched their in-state rival at home for two straight seasons ahead of another showdown Wednesday night.
Last season, then-No. 12 Virginia fell to the Hokies 80-78 in double overtime, which came a year after Virginia Tech took down the fourth-ranked Cavaliers 70-68 in another two-point thriller at Cassell Coliseum.
With 2018 now here and the ACC schedule officially underway, No. 8 Virginia (12-1, 1-0) enters Wednesday night's game on a modest four-game winning streak that includes a one-point win over Boston College in their conference opener on Saturday.
Sophomore guard Ty Jerome went for a career-high 31 points against Boston College. Virginia needed all of them as they got everything they could handle from the upset-minded Eagles.
The performance continues a trend of stellar play from Jerome after some early season struggles had people questioning his spot in Tony Bennett's starting lineup.
"I keep getting this question, and I keep answering in the same way," Jerome said. "My confidence never wavers, so it is not really a relief. I expect shots to fall and I'm going to continue to be aggressive no matter what."
Virginia Tech (11-3, 0-1) started the ACC season on a different note as its offense struggled in a 68-56 loss at Syracuse on New Year's Eve.
The Hokies entered their game with the Orange averaging more than 90 points per game but were held to a season low as they connected on just 34 percent of their shots, well under their season average of their national-best 53 percent accuracy.
Five players currently average at least 10 points for the Hokies.
Guard Ahmed Hill continues to lead the way, averaging 15.6 points per game. Hill also leads the country in 3-point percentage (50.6 percent) but was held to six points on 2 of 7 from 3-point range against Syracuse.
The Hokies will face another tough defensive test in a different way against the Cavaliers as Bennett and Virginia bring the nation's No. 1 scoring defense and defensive efficiency team to Blacksburg.
Something will have to give as Virginia has yet to allow an opponent to shoot 50 percent this season and has held every opponent below 70 points.
"We know what it's like in that environment, those of us that have played in there," Bennett said about playing at Cassell Coliseum. "They're good. You saw how well they played against Kentucky."
Virginia Tech will be looking to bounce back from a three-game stretch where they have failed to score more than 76 points while ranking ninth in the country in scoring offense (88.8 ppg).
A stingy Virginia defense will be looking to break a two-game losing streak in Blacksburg.
"I think it's fun. I love tough environments," Jerome said.