Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ODU, VaTech and Hampton kick off tournament play

A lot to get to today, so let's delve straight into the matchups:

Wednesday's games

Tulane DoubleTree Classic, at Tulane
Old Dominion (5-4) vs. Charlotte (10-2), 6 p.m.
The winner will play either Nicholls State (yeah, right) or host Tulane (bingo!) in Thursday's title game. Both teams are coming off a holiday break and rank 270th (ODU) and 277th (Charlotte) in turnovers per game so, well, let's just say this isn't likely the Mona Lisa of basketball games. But there's nothing wrong with an ugly win, right, Wendy? ODU's non-conference road struggles of late have been oft-documented here. A key bugaboo this season has been early foul trouble, particularly to Tia Lewis. Charlotte no doubt knows this, too, so we'd expect the 49ers to take it to Lewis early and try to draw a cheap foul or two. Lewis cannot take the bait. If everything breaks right, the Lady Monarchs will use 49ers turnovers to trigger a transition game, hang around for 39 minutes and watch Jasmine Parker make a couple of her patented game-winning plays in the last 60 seconds. We can see that. Problem is, we haven't seen that from the Lady Monarchs on the road in a long time. So until we do.... Charlotte 63, Old Dominion 58

Hilton Garden Classic, at Virginia Tech
Alcorn State (1-6) vs. Virginia Tech (7-4), 7 p.m.
The Lady Braves' record stems in part from the fact that they've only played only one home game (which they won). That said, this is the level of program an ACC team at home should beat, and handily the way Miami did on Dec. 11 (92-34). Tech doesn't need to win by 60. But the Hokies would be well-served to take control of this one quickly and decisively - something they've struggled to do this season - because they're going to have to really bring it on Thursday if they want to win their own tournament for the 12th time in 13 years. With a victory Tech will face either Delaware - which appears set to play without star Elena Delle Donne - or Vanderbilt. Virginia Tech 80, Alcorn State 52

Georgia State Invitational, at Georgia State
Hampton (6-4) vs. Troy (2-10), 4 p.m.
The Trojans are actually 0-10 against Division I schools, in part because three players in their projected rotation, all at least part-time starters from a year ago, have been sidelined with injuries. Hampton needs to avoid playing down to the competition. The Lady Pirates are the favorites in this tournament, but they're at their best when they play as though they have something to prove. The winner will face either Mississippi Valley State or host Georgia Tech in Thursday's final.  Hampton 69, Troy 54

Marriott Cavalier Classic, at Virginia
Final: East Tennessee State (4-6) at Virginia (8-5), 7 p.m.
The Cavaliers are 6-0 at home and are coming off a season-high 88-point assault on North Carolina A&T. But the key today will be how well the Cavaliers perform defensively. In addition to the 90 points the Lady Bucs hung on Holy Cross in Tuesday's Classic opener, they also put up 96 on Richmond in November. If you let them run their stuff, the Lady Bucs have a lot of players that can score. So this is a team the Cavaliers will not want to trade baskets with. Holy Cross and North Carolina A&T will meet in today's 4:30 p.m. consolation game. Virginia 82, ETSU 62

Maryland Terrapin Classic, at Maryland
Consolation: LaSalle (4-7) vs. Liberty (4-7), 2 p.m.
Coming off an encouraging effort in Tuesday's 81-66 loss to St. John's, the Lady Flames need to avoid giving back the apparent gains they made by tossing in a stinker today. Devon Brown probably isn't going to shoot 3-for-14 again, but it would be nice to see the post players get a bit more involved in the offense as well. And it would be great if Liberty could hold it under, say, 20 turnovers. That's not too much to ask, is it? The court should be plenty warm by the time these teams hit the court as St. John's and Maryland will have already played the title game (11:30 a.m. tipoff).  Liberty 55, LaSalle 49

William and Mary (1-8) at Longwood (2-9), 4:30 p.m.
It's Youth Day at Willett Hall and fans ages 18 and under will get in free. The game is the opener of a women's-men's doubleheader; William and Mary and Longwood's men's teams will play at 7 p.m. As for the women's game, the Tribe's size meets the Lancers' speed in this matchup of two teams desperate for a win. If Longwood can hold its own on the boards and beat William and Mary up and down the floor, the Lancers have a chance. A few well-timed 3-pointers would help, too. But ultimately, we suspect the Tribe will be too big, too strong. Interesting tidbit from the W&M game notes: the Tribe have won their non-conference finale (which this is) in each of the last four years and in 12 of the past 13. William and Mary 72, Longwood 67

Norfolk State (5-3) at George Mason (5-5), 7 p.m.
In their last three games, all at home, the Patriots have held their opponents to 48, 53 and 45 points. Even better, this defense has translated into the Patriots' three highest point totals of the season (74, 69 and 73). We're eager to see if Evelyn Lewis can follow up her 17-point, 14-rebound effort against Ohio with another strong game in the low box. Meanwhile, the Spartans haven't played since Dec. 18, when they nipped McNeese State 75-70 in overtime. Whitney Long and Sarah Daily have supplied firepower from outside, and  Marian Brooks and Batavia Owens give the Spartans a presence inside. Now if only Rachel Gordon could get it going again. Gordon had 20 points and 11 rebounds in NSU's season opener, then sat out three games with injury and has scored only 9 points in the four games since returning. Gordon has still posted some solid rebounding numbers, but some more offensive punch would really help, too. George Mason 72, Norfolk State 68

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