Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday's previews and picks

James Madison (5-4) at Monmouth (7-2), 1 p.m.
One can never be sure how a team will look coming out of an exam break, particularly on the road, but we look for the Dukes to shake off enough rust to subdue a small - no starter over 5-10 - but potentially dangerous Hawks team. Senior George Mason transfer Gena Broadus averages 7.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg for Monmouth, which has won six straight. JMU 69, Monmouth 63

Virginia Tech (5-4) at William and Mary (1-6), 1 p.m.
Boy, we're just not sure what to make of either team yet. The Tribe flexed some muscle Wednesday against Norfolk State, but not sure where beating the Spartans puts them in the pecking order. And Tech? Well, can't forget how much they struggled at home against Robert Morris in the Hokies' last outing. Tech has to be better than that, right? So tempted to go with the Tribe here, but we need to see at least one more successful result before we're sold. So we're going to say that the Hokies did some soul-searching this week and put just enough stuff together to knock off the Tribe. But we don't say it with much conviction. Virginia Tech 57, William and Mary 55
Liberty (3-5) at North Carolina Central (1-8), 2 p.m.
We rolled our eyes initially when we saw this matchup, but don't be surprised if N.C. Central hangs around in this one. The Lady Eagles' one win came over Big South member Presbyterian, and they lost by only eight at defending Big South regular-season champion Gardner-Webb. Plus Liberty hasn't played a game in 13 days. The return of leading scorer Devon Brown is obviously huge for Liberty. But if the Lady Flames win by a huge number here, we'd actually be somewhat impressed. Liberty 72, North Carolina Central 53

McNeese State (6-3) at Norfolk State (4-3), 4 p.m.
NSU's 4-1 start showed how far the Spartans have come; losses at North Carolina A&T and William and Mary exposed how much ground still needs to be made up. The Cowgirls come in on a four-game winning streak, but the Spartans are in a winnable situation today in just their second home game of the season. Norfolk State 66, McNeese State 62

Longwood (2-6) at VCU (3-4), 4 p.m.
The Lancers are coming off last Saturday's 74-70 win over Wright State and now figure to be a bit more comfortable in their new motion offense. They don't have any answer for Rams star Courtney Hurt, but then no one else has, either. The key will be which Rams step up in support of Hurt. Sonia Johnson has had two big scoring games in a row; let's see if she can keep it up. VCU 82, Longwood 72

Radford (3-6) at South Carolina-Upstate (4-4), 4:30 p.m.
A tough spot for the Highlanders coming of exams on the road against a team that has been playing all week (this will be the Spartans' fourth game in seven days). Upstate can be an explosive offensive team so the Highlanders will likely need to produce more than their 55 ppg average to keep up. SC Upstate 75, Radford 65

UMBC (4-6) at Virginia (6-4), 7 p.m.
The Cavaliers haven't played since Dec. 6 but are 4-0 at home this season and should make this a successful tune-up to Monday's game at JMU. This contest marks the return of Cavaliers point guard China Crosby, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since Virginia's season opener at Hofstra on Nov. 12. Virginia 88, UMBC 60

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