Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tennessee/ODU, Richmond/VCU, Donovan in town among day's treats

    Think it's an NFL Sunday? We beg to differ. It's a women's basketball Sunday, and if you're headed to ODU, wear your blue. Here's what's on tap.

Tennessee (7-1) at Old Dominion (3-2), 2 p.m.
The largest crowd to ever see the Lady Monarchs at the Constant Center is expected today, and while Tennessee has matchup advantages all over the place - and history clearly doesn't favor ODU in this series - there are reasons to believe the Lady Monarchs can at least keep things competitive. Chief among those reasons is an active ODU defense. The Lady Vols have committed 29 turnovers twice this season. One of those games was against Louisville, and ODU appeared to be more tenacious defensively than the Cardinals when the two teams met nine days ago. The Lady Monarchs are going to need a particularly active 3-point defense if the Lady Vols start hitting that shot. Twice Tennessee has drained 15 3s in a game, and just a few days ago freshman Meighan Simmons hit 8 of her 13 attempts from long range. Here's some news to sink upir teeth into: For the first time since the 2008 NCAA tournament second round against Virginia, a Constant Center game involving the Lady Monarchs is a major event in Hampton Roads. So no matter what happens out there today, be sure to thank the Lady Vols for stopping by. Tennessee 77, ODU 62

Liberty (3-4) at James Madison (4-3), 2 p.m.
Encouraging news - Devin Brown's homecoming game - Harrisonburg is about 40 miles from her hometown of Waynesboro - may actually feature Devin Brown. The Big South's Preseason Player of the Year has missed hasn't played this season because of injury, but she may make her season debut today. The Lady Flames could certainly use her, especially against a JMU team that, with forward Lauren Jimenez continuing to stack quality games together, is starting to look more and more like the quality team we've been expecting. JMU leads this series 5-1 and we imagine at buzzer it will be 6-1. James Madison 65, Liberty 53

VCU at Richmond (4-4), 2 p.m.
We'd love to see a nice turnout here, but the "Battle of Richmond" didn't seem to excite too many people last year when the teams played at VCU. Despite three consecutive losses, these Spiders are worth watching, though, and they're coming off a white-hot shooting performance of the season in a 65-64 loss at Georgetown. As for the Rams, Courtney Hurt is flat-out carrying this team; they'll almost certainly need a couple of others to raise the play a level or two to keep up with what is probably the best team they've faced so far.Richmond has won the last three and nine of its last 11 over VCU. Hurt will get hers, but given how much firepower the Spiders have, we give them the nod. Richmond 62, VCU 58

Seton Hall (4-4) at William and Mary (0-5), 2 p.m.
The Tribe's long-awaited home opener features the Hampton Roads return of former ODU great and Hall of Famer Anne Donovan, Seton Hall's new head coach, who has tried out seven different starting lineups in eight games. We're eager to see new Tribe forward and reigning CAA Rookie of the Week Kaitlyn Mathieu, who had a breakout two-game series (averaging 19 ppg) during the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic. As much as we'd love it, we're not convinced win No. 1 will come today. Seton Hall 55, W&M 50

George Mason (2-4) at George Washington (3-3), 1 p.m.
Not sure if it's fatigue or simply a matter of not understanding how to close games out, but in their last two games the Patriots have lost control of winnable contests over the final 10 minutes. The Colonials had won three in a row until Thursday's 64-61 double-overtime loss to Marshall, a game that featured a career-high 17 points from point guard and former Forest Park High star Danni Jackson. The Patriots have won the last three between the teams, but we like an improved GWU team to wrap up city honors. George Washington 66, George Mason 60

Winthrop (2-4) at Virginia Tech (4-3), 2 p.m.
After three losses on the road against tough competition (Iowa, under-the-radar Florida Gulf Coast and at Minnesota), the Hokies to a Cassell Coliseum in which they are 4-0 this season. Tech looks like a huge favorite here, and while they struggled against similarly rebuilding teams early in the season, their strong finish at Minnesota Thursday suggests they may be ready to put this team in trouble from the jump today. A last second basket gave the Eagles their first road win in their last game at North Carolina Central. Scoring points hasn't come easily for this team -- the Eagles average 54.2 -- and we suspect they won't score enough to defeat Tech. Virginia Tech 70, Winthrop 58

Gardner-Webb (4-3) at Longwood (1-5), 2 p.m.
Longwood remains without its coach, who was suspended indefinitely for a personnel matter and will have trouble contending with the Runnin' Bulldogs, whose coach Rick Reeves looks to pick up his 100th win at the school today. The Lancers have dropped their last five after a season-opening win against High Point. Gardner-Webb 71, Longwood 50

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