Virginia Tech or Marshall? How to pick 4 vs. 13 matchup in 2024 women’s March Madness bracket

The Virginia Tech Hokies will host the Marshall Thundering Herd in Blacksburg on Friday (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) in the opening round of the 2024 women’s March Madness tournament.

Virginia Tech looks to rebound from its unceremonious elimination from the ACC tournament two weekends ago when Notre Dame thrashed the Hokies 82-53. Kenny Brooks’ squad entered the conference tourney as the 1-seed, having finished the regular season 23-7 and winning the ACC regular-season title.

As for Marshall, it was a storybook season under first-year head coach Kim Caldwell. The Thundering Herd have made the March Madness tournament for the first time since 1997, the only other year the program got into the Big Dance. Caldwell’s squad broke the program’s single-season wins record and won the Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles.

Let’s dive into this compelling first-round matchup, taking a look at the odds as well as some key stats and trends, players to watch and our prediction. 

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Virginia Tech vs. Marshall odds

Early odds have Virginia Tech as a considerable 12.5-point favorite entering Friday’s matchup, according to BetMGM.

  • Odds: Virginia Tech (-12.5)
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Arena: Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, VA

Virginia Tech (24-7, 14-4 in ACC)

Virginia Tech enjoyed a great season, finishing atop the ACC standings with a 24-7 record and 14-4 conference record. The Hokies outscored opponents by an average of 13.1 points per game and ranked 36th in the nation in scoring with 74.8 points per game. More importantly, they also went a perfect 15-0 at home.

Senior guard Georgia Amoore has been brilliant offensively, and she will need to step up even more with star senior center Elizabeth Kitley missing the tourney with a knee injury. In Tech’s final regular season contest vs. Virginia, Amoore and Kitley combined for 59 of the team’s 75 points (Clara Strack had eight points off the bench — no other player had more than three).

For a four-seed, the Hokies defense leaves a bit to be desired. They rank just 111th in the nation, surrendering 61.7 PPG. They have also hit the skids a little on the offensive side of the floor over the past 10 games, averaging just 67.8 PPG during that span. Losing Kitley on the interior will only make matters worse. We’ll be watching closely how Kenny Brooks’ complementary players perform in Kitley’s absence on both ends of the floor. 

Key players

Georgia Amoore, G, Sr. (5-6): 19.2 ppg, 6.9 apg, 2.7 rpg 

Matilda Ekh, G, Jr. (6-0): 9.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.7 apg

Elizabeth Kitley, C, Sr. (6-6) (injured): 22.8 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg 

MORE: Buy tickets to 2024 March Madness games

Marshall (26-6, 17-1 in Sun Belt)

Kim Caldwell already has a ton to be proud of in her first year as Marshall’s head coach. She led the Thundering Herd to its best record ever, guided them to regular season and conference tournament titles and has the program back in the dance for the second time ever and the first time in 27 years.

The Herd ride a 10-game winning streak into the tournament, hoping to keep the dream alive and play nightmarish spoilers for the Hokies. And while Marshall clearly preferred playing at home (where it went 11-1) and against conference foes (17-1 vs. SBC), its 12-5 road record and 9-5 non-conference record tell us this team has the confidence to give anybody its best shot.

The key to Marshall’s success has been from long range, as the Herd sink an average of 10.6 three-pointers per game. They also have a heck of a playmaker in Abby Beeman, who ranks seventh in the nation with 205 total assists. They have gone 17-0 when they hit 11 or more treys in a game — but sadly (womp, womp), the Hokies allow just 4.9 threes per game. 

Key players

Abby Beeman, G, Sr. (5-4): 16.8 ppg, 6.4 apg, 5.7 rpg, 2.4 spg

Breanna Campbell, G, Sr. (5-5): 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.0 spg

Aislynn Hayes, G, Jr. (5-9): 14.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.4 spg

WOMEN’S BRACKET GUIDES: Iowa | South Carolina | LSU | USC | UConn

Virginia Tech vs. Marshall prediction

The Thundering Herd have averaged over 90 points per game over their past 10 contests, but these Hokies are a much different foe than James Madison, Appalachian State and Louisiana-Monroe. We originally had Virginia Tech plowing through Marshall, but with Kitley out for the tournament we now have the betting favorite winning by just a few points.

The Herd rack up a lot of steals, but they can’t defend the interior and often struggle to contain the high screen-and-roll. If Amoore can develop the Hokies’ offensive rhythm early, and Virginia Tech continues its above-average three-point defense (opponents shoot 29.3% from deep), we’ve got this one chalked in as a W for the dominant home team.

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