Thursday, January 5, 2012

VCU invades JMU; UNC visits Virginia

Thursday's games:

In the spotlight

VCU (8-4, 1-0 CAA at JMU (9-3, 0-1), 7 p.m.
An especially huge game for the Dukes, who need to defend their home court and obviously do not want to fall to 0-2 in conference play. JMU has owned this series of late, winning the last seven - including CAA semifinals wins the past two seasons - and taking all three meetings last season by double figures. JMU's defense was the key in last season's victories as evidenced by the Rams' shooting percentages (36.4, 26.9 and 30.3) in the three games. Not surprisingly, Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour took most of VCU's shots. But Hurt made just 32.7 percent of hers (20 of 61), Barbour only 30.7 percent of hers (16 of 52) Clearly, the Rams stars are getting plenty of shots against JMU, but not the shots they want. JMU's defense looked to be in rock-solid shape during Tuesday's 56-49 win over Duquesne. Let's see if the Rams have finally figured out how to solve it. JMU 64, VCU 58

The Rams may regain the services of senior point guard Jennifer Lane, who because of a violation of team rules has sat out VCU's last six games. Prior to that, Lane had started 103 of 104 games during her Rams career, coming off the bench only for last season's Senior Day. During her CAA conference call this week, VCU coach Beth Cunningham said Lane is practicing and could see action tonight. Also, Cunningham said that freshman forward Melanie Royster had surgery to repair her ACL earlier this week. Royster suffered the injury during VCU's victory over Winthrop on Nov. 27.

Not sure what to make of this one. Both teams played like CAA contenders at times during the non-conference schedule, but both are also prone to throw in some head-scratching efforts (William and Mary's 74-66 home loss to George Washington; George Mason's 60-57 setback at Norfolk State). We like the Patriots' ability to pressure William and Mary's guards in this matchup, but we're not crazy about how Mason plays away from home. So, slight edge to the Tribe. William and Mary 69, George Mason 62

Also in the CAA

Northeastern at UNC Wilmington, 11:30 a.m.
Drexel at Hofstra, 7 p.m.
Towson at Delaware, 7 p.m.

Click here to read about Wednesday night's Old Dominion victory over Georgia State.

Related: CAA primer


No. 25 North Carolina (11-2, 1-0) at Virginia (12-3, 0-1), 7 p.m.
Cavaliers forward Chelsea Shine is listed as probable for tonight's game; Shine had to leave Virginia's 77-66 loss at Duke Monday after getting a couple of her teeth re-arranged. No word yet on third-year point guard China Crosby, who submitted to further evaluation of her injured left knee on Wednesday. Cavaliers point guard Lexie Gerson has stepped up well in Crosby's absence and currently ranks third in the ACC in steals (3.1 spg). Game sets up as a classic battle of Virginia's ACC-leading defense vs. Carolina's typically high-scoring offense (79.3). The Tar Heels have even more injury woes that Virginia and probably lost another player Monday in UNC's victory over Miami when senior guard She'la White, the former Norfolk Collegiate star, went down with an ankle injury. The Tar Heels say she is unlikely to play tonight. Because of their injuries, we think the Tar Heels have been a bit overrated all season. In their only true road game this season, the Tar Heels lost by 19 at Penn State. The Cavaliers are 9-0 at home, and if they play to their established standard, we think they'll get this one, too. Virginia 69. North Carolina 59

Virginia Tech (5-9, 1-0 ACC) at Boston College (5-8, 0-0), 7 p.m.
Fresh off Monday's 55-33 dismantling of Clemson, the Hokies will look to make it three straight wins against the struggling Eagles. Three of Tech's five victories have come in road games this season. Hokies guard Aerial Wilson is coming off a career-high 24-point effort against Clemson. Virginia Tech 57, Boston College 52

Also in the ACC

Clemson at Florida State, 7 p.m.
N.C. State at Miami, 7 p.m.

Related: ACC primer

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