Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Virginia, Virginia Tech host holiday tournaments; ODU, Longwood visit heavyweight foes

Holiday break's over - we hope everyone enjoyed theirs - and now it's back to the hardwood:

Wednesday's games:

Longwood (2-11) at No. 3 Notre Dame (11-1), 2 p.m.
Lancers first-year assistant coach Lindsay Schrader was an All-American at Notre Dame two years ago and shared the backcourt with Fighting Irish star Skylar Diggins, so if nothing else the Lancers should have received an expert scouting report. Of course, carrying it out is the tricky part. Longwood players will also get to experience one of the sport's great game-day atmospheres, as Notre Dame has averaged 8,542 fans per home game at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame 88, Longwood 39

Wagner (2-9) at Virginia (10-2), Marriott Cavalier Classic, 7 p.m.
The Cavaliers have won their own tournament seven straight times and will be heavy favorites in Wednesday's opener and against either Elon (5-5) or UMass (4-8) in Thursday's final/consolation game. In fact, unless Virginia is extremely rusty after the holiday break, we'd be surprised if either of their opponents clear 50 points. One key variable for the Cavaliers is the health of guard China Crosby, who suffered a knee injury in the first minute of Virginia's 59-53 victory over JMU last week. We haven't gotten an update on Crosby's condition, but Virginia's official game notes list her as questionable for the tournament. Virginia 71, Wagner 48

Old Dominion (3-9) at No. 8 Tennessee (7-3), 7 p.m.
Even some of ODU's most experienced and powerful teams have struggled in this storied series as the Lady Vols have won 15 straight and haven't lost to the Lady Monarchs in Knoxville since 1982. The long-term question is, with talk of easing up on the schedule for ODU, will this be the Lady Monarchs' last trip to Thompson-Boling Arena for a while? A year ago in Norfolk, Tennessee used fullcourt pressure to suffocate the Lady Monarchs and cruised to a 72-42 victory. We suspect ODU will see that tactic again. Fans in Virginia can watch the action online on ESPN3. Tennessee 84, Old Dominion 52

VCU (7-3) vs. Morgan State (2-7) in Miami Tournament, 5 p.m.
The Rams have won four straight and will be facing their third straight MEAC opponent (Coppin State and Norfolk State). The Lady Bears' record is due in part to the fact that, since opening the season on Nov. 15, they've played nothing but road games since. Still, we love the Rams' chances, and a victory today would almost certainly set them up for a shot at the 12th-ranked Hurricanes, who head into this tournament on a 30-game home winning streak. VCU 78, Morgan State 58

Cincinnati (7-5) at Virginia Tech (3-8) at Hilton Garden Inn Hokie Classic, 7 p.m.
Few teams probably appreciated a few days off more than these depth-starved Hokies. And this event typically brings out the best in the Hokies, who are 26-2 in the Classic the past 14 years and stunned Vanderbilt to take the 2010 title. Also, sophomore guard Monet Tellier has been a terrific tournament player, as she averaged 20.5 points and made the all-tournament team earlier this season at St. Mary's, and was the tournament MVP at the Hokie Classic last season. As for Cincinnati, it's been a strange season by the Bearcats, who started out 6-0, then dropped five straight before righting themselves last week against Longwood. Hokies coach Dennis Wolff and Cincinnati's Jamelle Elliott, both UConn grads, have no doubt crossed paths many times. Elliott was an assistant at UConn when Wolff's daughter, Nicole, played for the Huskies in the mid-2000s. Today's winner will face either High Point or UMBC in Thursday's title game. Virginia Tech 62, Cincinnati 59

Hampton (8-2) vs. Central Michigan (7-5) in Doubletree Classic (Tulane), 9 p.m.
Matchup of two hot teams as the Lady Pirates have won six of their last seven games when CMU comes in on a five-game winning streak that coincided with Florida Gulf Coast transfer LaJordan Duke becoming eligible. The Chippewas' three top scorers are all freshmen - Crystal Bradford (14.6 ppg), Jas'Mine Bracey (11.2) and Jessica Green (10.3). Hampton, by contrast, is very much a senior-led team with Choicetta McMillian (16.4 ppg, 36 3-pointers), Jericka Jenkins (12.9 ppg, 5.9 apg) and Melanie Warner (10.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) fueling the attack. And, of course, every Lady Pirate pitches in on defense - that is, if they want playing time. The winner will face either College of Charleston (2-8) or host Tulane (9-2) in Thursday's title game. Hampton 72, Central Michigan 56

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