Sunday, February 20, 2011

Road tests await JMU, VCU and ODU; surging UVa hosts BC

Sunday's games

Virginia Tech (11-15, 1-10 ACC) at #7 Duke (23-3, 9-2 ACC), noon
The Hokies managed just 43 points against the Blue Devils in a 14-point loss to Duke at Cassell Coliseum last month. Duke has offensive shortcomings of its own, which were exposed in Thursday's 63-47 loss at Maryland. No disrespect to the Hokies, but Virginia Tech ain't Maryland. And even if they were, Cameron Indoor Stadium ain't Cassell Coliseum - the Blue Devils have won 21 straight at home and 19 straight at home against ACC opponents. Duke 67, Virginia Tech 52

Boston College (17-9, 4-7 ACC) at Virginia (15-12, 4-7), 1 p.m.
The Cavaliers are seven days removed from victories their sizzling six-day stretch in which they followed a near-miss against powerful Florida State with a four-OT win at N.C. State and a victory over Maryland. Virginia has gotten solid contributions from several but have particularly benefited from the continued development of freshman Ataira Franklin. The rookie leads U.Va in conference-only games with 12.7 ppg, and for the season she is averaging an ACC-high 51 percent from 3-point range (29-for-57). Although the Eagles have lost two straight, they are still dangerous and feature an explosive starting unit. But we expect that, at home, the surging Cavaliers will expose BC's lack of depth and prevail in what should be an entertaining, high-scoring game. NOTE: The game will be televised regionally, so check your local listings. Also, 2,500 pink T-shirts, provided by the UVa Health System Cancer Center, will be given away to fans attending the game. At halftime, there will be a video presentation and recognition of survivors and doctors. Fans will have an opportunity to enter a raffle to win a "Pink Zone" basketball signed by the team.Virginia 82, Boston College 77

Old Dominion (17-8, 11-3 CAA) at Hofstra (15-10, 7-7 CAA), 1 p.m.
Part II of a tough two-game road set for the Lady Monarchs, who are coming off Thursday's disappointing 21-point loss at VCU. Hofstra wants to play uptempo and features one of the conference's best low-post players in sophomore Shante Evans. Overall, however, the Pride is the league's worst rebounding team (CAA-only games), so that could mitigate an ODU weakness VCU exploited so successfully Thursday. ODU's performances in road games this season are often spotty, at best, and the 1,500 Girl Scouts the Pride have invited as part of their "Pink Zone Game" celebration should make the Mack Sports Complex considerably livelier than normal. We still think the Lady Monarchs will find a way to get it done, but it will take one of their better efforts of the year. After Thursday's debacle at VCU, we've gotta believe they're determined to produce just such an effort. ODU 75, Hofstra 72

James Madison (20-6, 13-1 CAA) at Delaware  (15-10, 8-6 CAA), 2 p.m.
Finally, a rematch of our favorite game of 2009-10, JMU's 88-83 overtime decision over the Blue Hens in which Elena Delle Donne scored 54 points and Dawn Evans answered with 38. That these two stars are even playing this season is pretty remarkable as both are battling well-documented physical issues. JMU takes an 11-game winning streak and a stranglehold on the CAA lead into the game while the Blue Hens are coming off Thursday's loss at George Mason in which Delle Donne was limited to 14 points and 6 rebounds. Health permitting, we expect a lot more from her today. But as we learned a year ago, even a superhuman Delle Donne effort isn't necessarily enough against JMU. JMU 68, Delaware 63

Virginia Commonwealth (15-9, 10-4 CAA) at Drexel (15-10, 7-7 CAA), 2 p.m.
Tricky game for the Rams, who excelled Thursday against ODU but must now re-focus themselves on the disciplined Dragons at a place where Drexel is 11-1 this season. Virtually every game the Dragons play is a close one, so we expect the Rams are going to have to make some key plays in the final two minutes to get out of Philly with a win. VCU 64, Drexel 62

Georgia State (10-15, 5-9 CAA) at William and Mary (2-23, 1-13 CAA), 1 p.m.
There's no team we're pulling for harder today than the Tribe, which has had victories ripped from their teeth the last two outings in back-to-back overtime losses. The Panthers are playing better of late and had won 3 straight before being brought back to earth Thursday at UNC Wilmington. Georgia State's offense is extremely inconsistent from game-to-game, but the Panthers are capable of putting up a big number at times. But if the Tribe can keep this game in the 50s, we like their chances.William and Mary 58, Georgia State overtime!

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