Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Tech Hokies’

Top Ten Games Of The Week (November 17-23)

Posted by Zach on November 17, 2008

The first week of the college hoops season was filled mostly with low-majors attempting to pull off miraculous upsets or two of the top mid-majors in the country doing battle. I’m not saying it was a snoozer seven days; there were certainly a fair share of thrilling games and nail biting finishes for the debut week of the season. But this week we start getting into the meat of November and the preseason tournaments. It’s not quite Old Spice/Maui time yet, but these matchups should keep your plate filled until Thanksgiving break.

1. Coaches vs. Cancer Semis/Finals (November 20, 21, ESPN2)
– I made the dire mistake last week of assuming Houston would beat Georgia Southern and advance to play Duke, so rather than place Duke vs. UCLA as my #1 game, I’ll lump the entire tournament together as my number one game. The semis are both very intriguing with Southern Illinois playing the mid-major that everyone will be rooting for to topple big bad Duke. In the second game, Michigan will need another virtuoso performance from Manny Harris to take down UCLA and their deep, talented squad. Seeing as Rhode Island nearly won at Cameron Sunday, it’d be foolish to write Duke-UCLA in pen. But I’d be shocked if you didn’t see that beautiful matchup Friday night at the Garden. Prediction: Duke 70, UCLA 66 in final

2. Puerto Rico Tip-Off (November 20-23, ESPNU/ESPN2)
– Plenty of quality contests in Puerto Rico beginning on Thursday with Missouri taking on Xavier in the afternoon in what should be a very close game. The winner of that gets to take on Virginia Tech Friday afternoon. On the other side of the bracket, Memphis should defeat Chattanooga while USC will likely handle Seton Hall, setting up an Evans vs. DeRozan battle on Friday night between two very athletic teams. The final could feature any of these teams on Sunday on ESPN. You know the tournament is strong when I’m looking forward to the consolation game, as well. Prediction: USC 75, Virginia Tech 69 in final

3. Paradise Jam Semifinals (November 23, FCS Pacific)
– Assuming we avoid some stunning upset like Southern Miss over Miami, the semis at the Paradise Jam on Sunday night should be Miami vs. Connecticut and San Diego vs. Wisconsin. You’re wondering the same thing I am: why are the two best teams in the tournament on the same side of the bracket? Maybe a nod of respect to Bo Ryan and his recent success in Madison. Regardless, Miami-Connecticut is a battle of top-15 caliber teams featuring Jack McClinton trying to score over Hasheem Thabeet, while San Diego nearly beat UNLV on the road with four key players suspended, so don’t count them out against the Badgers. Prediction: Connecticut vs. Wisconsin final

4. #21 Davidson at #12 Oklahoma (November 18, ESPN2)
– The premiere matchup of the College Hoops Tip-Off 24-hour marathon on the ESPN family is not Kentucky vs. North Carolina. The best game is Davidson vs. Oklahoma for a trip to New York. You all know what to expect from the Wildcats- plenty of Stephen Curry shooting threes. And we can all agree that’s not such a bad thing, right? Also not a bad thing: Watching Blake Griffin score and rebound in the post. Because I don’t see anyone containing my National Player of the Year pick, the Sooners advance. Also keep an eye on Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson trying to contain Curry for forty minutes. Prediction: Oklahoma 80, Davidson 72

5. Kentucky at #1 North Carolina (November 18, ESPN)
– Sure, this game has lost some of its luster. Kentucky is no longer a national powerhouse and lost Friday to VMI. North Carolina declared Tyler Hansbrough out for Tuesday’s contest. Still, College Gameday will be there, it’s a historic and entertaining rivalry, and we get to see great players like Pat Patterson and Wayne Ellington. So stop complaining. Why will North Carolina prevail? I expect Ty Lawson to exploit the Kentucky point guards and have a huge game. Prediction: North Carolina 83, Kentucky 70

6. UAB at Arizona (November 18, ESPN2)- The UAB Blazers are a dangerous team this year in Conference USA, folks. They feature an ultra-talented two headed monster in Paul Delaney and Robert Vaden and Mike Davis, for all of his past transgressions, is a fine basketball coach. They’ll travel to Tuscon fearless and primed for an upset over Chase Budinger, Nic Wise, Jordan Hill and the Wildcats. Unless Budinger asserts himself from the tip, I think an upset is very possible here, with Vaden showcasing his talents on national television much like he did last year in Freedom Hall. Prediction: UAB 69, Arizona 68

7. Nevada at San Diego (November 18, ESPN FC)
– This game isn’t part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon, but it very well should be. I’ll certainly be flipping over to ESPN Full Court to watch freshman phenom Luke Babbitt lead the charge for Nevada into San Diego to take on Brandon Johnson, Gyno Pomare and the Torreros. Credit San Diego coach Bill Grier for scheduling so many top mid-majors early in the season; a victory over Nevada, a tournament team, could prove vital on Selection Sunday.  Prediction: San Diego 70, Nevada 67

8. #15 Arizona State at San Diego State (November 18, CBS College Sports)
– Yet another tremendous basketball game on Tuesday, this one possibly resulting in Upset City. The Aztecs return 96% of their scoring and 84% of their rebounding from last season under head coach Steve Fisher, led by stars Lorrenzo Wade and Marquette transfer Ryan Amoroso. Kyle Spain and Tim Shelton also boost an outstanding frontcourt, meaning Jeff Pendergraph is going to have his hands full. I’m calling this one, folks. Prediction: San Diego State 70, Arizona State 68

9. Massachusetts at #13 Memphis (November 17, ESPN)
– I’ll be staying up late to watch this one on ESPNHD, with John Calipari coaching against his former assistant (Derek Kellogg) and school (Massachusetts, whom he coached to prominence in the 90’s). This will be my first look at Tyreke Evans and his ability to run the point for the Tigers. Chris Lowe, Anthony Gurley and Ricky Harris may be able to hang around with Memphis for a while, but the muscle of Taggart and Dozier down low will be too much to handle. Prediction: Memphis 84, Massachusetts 74

10. Illinois at Vanderbilt (November 20, ESPN FC)
– Both of these teams will likely end up in the NIT, but it’s still Big Ten vs. SEC in November, which means I’ll be tuning in. A.J. Ogilvy is one of the top players in the SEC while Chester Frazier and Robert Meachem lead the way for Bruce Weber’s Illini in a difficult road environment. If Demetri McCamey is shooting well from deep, Illinois has a chance.  Prediction: Vanderbilt 69, Illinois 64

Honorable Mention

  • Georgia at #11 Purdue (November 18)
  • Miami (OH) at #6 Pittsburgh (November 17)
  • Tennessee-Martin at #13 Tennessee (November 18)
  • Cleveland State at Washington (November 18)
  • Tulsa at Oklahoma State (November 20)
  • Vermont at Maryland (November 21)
  • UAB at Old Dominion (November 22)
  • VCU at Rhode Island (November 22)
  • Clemson at Charlotte (November 22)
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Ten Bold Predictions For 2008-09

Posted by Zach on November 10, 2008

We have arrived.

My equally obsessive passion- baseball- kept me occupied long enough over the summer to avoid thinking about how much I miss college basketball. As my team’s season ended with a sharp groundball to Aki Iwamura in mid-October, my mind immediately transforms into one completely transfixes with counting the hours, minutes, seconds until the squeak of the sneakers against the college basketball hardwood. Tonight, the Cameron Indoor Stadium doors open, the Crazies will paint their faces and Coach K will patrol the sidelines. I know it’s only Presbyterian, it doesn’t matter one iota to me. A real college hoops game will be played tonight and that’s more than enough to keep me going through the bitter cold of the winter.

We’ve done our best to get our readers prepared for the journey ahead. With bracketology, major conference previews, Top 25’s, breakout players, predictions, summer roundups and instant reactions to breaking news, we hope our little experiment called Northwestern Wins has been a decent read for you, the fans that have longed for the opening jump ball as much as we have. Hopefully you’ll make your way back here during the regular season. We have plenty in store. So tie up those Adidas, Gerald Henderson, and let the season begin.

Here are ten bold predictions that we could see in 2008-09:

1. Virginia Tech will be the firmest ACC challenge for North Carolina- The Heels were pushed to the brink in last year’s ACC Tournament by the Hokies, who return everyone of note besides Deron Washington. Seth Greenberg’s team plays the best defense in the ACC and feature talented players like Jeff Allen and A.D. Vassallo. Blacksburg isn’t an easy place to win for any opponent, and these two teams face off late in the seaosn (March 4). Virginia Tech, not Duke or Wake or Miami, will give the Tar Heels their toughest fight during ACC play.

2. Memphis will lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament- John Calipari’s team certainly has the talent assembled, but I see a combination of mostly role players with limited upside. Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, Shawn Taggart, Angel Garcia and Willie Kemp are perfect role players around stars like Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose, but can they be the centerpieces? Tyreke Evans could mold into something special very soon, but he’s no Derrick Rose. They also turn the ball over enough to make John Calipari’s head explode and nobody can shoot free throws.

3. Siena will defeat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse– Led by Edwin Ubiles, Kenny Hansbrouck and Alex Franklin, three players who scored 15+ PPG last season, Siena will be the top mid-major in college basketball this season. They return nearly everyone from their 4-13 win over Vanderbilt last March, and the Saints will finally receive national recognition when they take down Kansas on the road January 6. Look for them to go undefeated in the MAAC, as well.

4. The Big East will get 10 teams in the tourney– I’ve made this prediction before, but the Big East is strong enough where a 8-10 Providence team could be the last team in. Barring some major disappointments, the nine teams ahead of Providence in the preseason should push their way into the field. The Friars added the National Coach of the Year and have plenty of scoring. Ten teams from one conference will happen.

5. Gonzaga will reach the Final Four- If Austin Daye finally plays up to his potential, Gonzaga will be playing into April. They have the explosiveness of Jeremy Pargo, the scoring of Micah Downs and Matt Bouldin, the three-point shooting of Stephen Gray, and the inside game of Daye and Josh Heytvelt. They’ll be tested in a brutal non-conference schedule along with San Diego and Saint Mary’s in the WCC.

6. Someone will emerge in the Duke frontcourt- Whether it’s Mason Plumlee, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek or Kyle Singler becoming more of an inside force, the Blue Devils will finally have someone to lean on in the paint when March rolls around. My money’s on Singler- he gained 20 pounds of bulk over the summer in preparation for lasting through ACC play. Thomas may finally break out of his shell.

7. Iman Shumpert will win ACC Rookie of the Year– Shumpert will be the centerpiece of the Jackets offense (especially now with Clinch suspended due to academics) from the opening tip. He has the skills to outlast Aminu, Davis, Zeller, Williams, Jones, Singleton and the rest for the honor.

8. Indiana will not win a Big Ten game this season- Not one. Not even over Iowa, Northwestern or Michigan. Look at that roster. It would barely survive in the Horizon League.

9. Connecticut will defeat North Carolina in the title game– I love the way UConn, at full strength, matches up with the Heels. Thabeet can frustrate Hansbrough down low, Price matches up well with Lawson containing his speed, Austrie/Dyson can hold Ellington from getting too many open looks, and the Huskies are nearly as deep as North Carolina. It’s not like Jim Calhoun will be outcoached, either.

10. Duke will lose to Presbyterian tonight– On second thought, I’m not that bold.

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ACC Preview Roundup

Posted by Tommy on November 10, 2008

Here are my preseason rankings and the links to the preview articles for each team. 1. North Carolina 2. Duke 3. Wake Forest 4. Miami 5. Virginia Tech 6. Clemson 7. Maryland 8. Boston College 9. Georgia Tech 10. North Carolina State 11. Florida State 12. Virginia

First Team
G- Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G- Jack McClinton, Miami
G/F- K.C Rivers, Clemson
F- Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
F- Kyle Singler, Duke

Second Team
G- Ty Lawson, North Carolina
G- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
G- Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
F- James Johnson, Wake Forest
F- Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech

Third Team
G- Toney Douglas, Florida State
G- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
G/F- A.D Vassallo, Virginia Tech
F- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech
F- Brandon Costner, North Caolina State

Honorable Mention
G- Nolan Smith, Duke
G/F- Jon Scheyer, Duke
F- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F- Trevor Booker, Clemson

All-Freshman Team
G- Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech
G- DeQuan Jones, Miami
F- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F- Miles Plumlee, Duke
C- Ty Walker, Wake Forest

Player of the Year: 1) Tyler Hansbrough 2) Tyrese Rice 3) Jack McClinton
Defensive Player of the Year: Toney Douglas
Breakthrough Player: Gani Lawal
Freshman of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu
Coach of the Year: Dino Gaudio, Wake Forest
NCAA Teams: 6
NIT Teams: 4
CBI Teams: 1

Top Five Games:
1) North Carolina @ Duke: 2/11
2) North Carolina @ Wake: 1/11
3) Duke @ North Carolina: 3/8
4) Miami @ Duke: 2/7
5) Duke @ Wake: 1/28

That’s all folks. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Should be a exciting year in the ACC! Stay tuned for up-to-date ACC Reports all season long.

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ACC Preview #5 Virginia Tech

Posted by Tommy on November 3, 2008

Coach- Seth Greenberg (6th season)

PG- Malcolm Delaney (SO): Last year the Hokies really missed the play of an experienced point guard. Delaney split the duty of running the offense with fellow freshman Hank Thorns. Now that both of these players are acclimated to college basketball, Greenberg will rely heavily on them to run the team. The reason I give the nod to Delaney over Thorns is his scoring ability. Delaney has a better shot and more size than the 5-9 Thorns and found his stroke during the ACC Tournament and NIT. Delaney does have a tendency to turn the ball over a bit more but Greenberg will live with that as long as Delaney keeps up his scoring numbers. Nevertheless, Delaney is a budding star in the ACC and could be poised for a bust-out sophomore season at the helm of the Hokies.

SG- A.D. Vassallo (SR): The young Hokies are really going to look to Vassallo to provide leadership. He doesn’t have a game with a lot of flare but he’ll do just about anything to help out his team. Vassallo gets it done on both ends of the floor. He can score in a number of ways, is a good rebounder and a tough defender and plays with his head as well as his heart. His size and versatility will allow him to play the two and the three this season. Vassallo is in a nice situation in which he’ll be relied on to take plenty of the shots, but can’t acquire too much of the opposition’s attention because he has quality young players around him. Vassallo could flirt with 20 PPG this season.

SF- J.T. Thompson (SO): Thompson, who played the four spot for the most part last season, has slimmed down over the offseason. His slimmer frame has improved his athleticism and will enable him to play the wing. Thompson has shown that he isn’t a threat from outside after only shooting one three-pointer last season, but he’s strong and athletic and will get to the rim. The departure of Deron Washington leaves some pretty big shoes to fill for Thompson at the wing, but as he gets more and more playing time, I think he’ll really come on strong for the Hokies. He may not have the greatest of offensive games, but he’ll provide hustle, defense and a strong rebounding presence for Greenberg.

PF- Jeff Allen (SO): The third starting sophomore for the Hokies is without question their best. Allen opened a lot of ACC fans’ eyes with his play down low. He’s one of those guys that fills most every column in the stat sheet. He’ll put up around 13 PPG, grab 8 RPG, and will cause about five or six turnovers each game through blocked shots and steals. Allen has a nice set of soft hands and good touch around the rim. Like Thompson, Allen has lost a significant amount of weight, meaning he’ll give the Hokies more athleticism and will be able to stay in the game longer, block more shots and run the floor better. Like the other two sophomores in the starting lineup, Allen is blossoming and I think can establish himself as one of the best big men in the ACC.

PF- Lewis Witcher (JR): Although Witcher is an undersized post player, he makes up for it with hustle and toughness down low. He won’t impress anybody with his athleticism or his skill set on offense, but Witcher is willing to put his body on the line for the sake of his team. Greenberg will look for him to provide the club with good defense and make the shots he’s given, knowing he shouldn’t expect any more or less out of the junior. Witcher reached double digits in the scoring column only twice last season, and any improvement on his 2.7 PPG would be a nice bonus for Greenberg and the Hokies.

Bench: Greenberg has a lot of interchangeable parts for this year’s roster. Senior Chuck Diakite will come off the bench and provide an energetic game similar to that of Witcher. As I said before Thorns will get some time at the point, but he has to improve on his 34 percent from the field from last season if he wants to get a chance at significant minutes. Sophomore guards Dorenzo Hudson and Terrell Bell give the Hokies some flexibility and athleticism in their backcourt. There has been a lot of talk in Blacksburg about 6-8 245 lb incoming freshman Victor Davila. His size and athleticism will bolster the frontcourt that will probably need some help because of their lack of size.

Backcourt: B+
Frontcourt: B
Bench: A-
Coaching: B+

Bottom Line: I would imagine Seth and the Hokies would be pretty motivated going into this season after having their bubble burst at the 11th hour last year. With three sophomore starters and three more playing significant roles off the bench, this “Sophomore Six-Pack” will have to mature over the course of the season. There is plenty of talent in that class, but if the Hokies want to solidify a spot in the dance, guys like Delaney and Allen will have to play a big part in taking them there. Nobody on Virginia Tech will blow opponents away with their natural talent, but they all play great defense and run an efficient offense.

Key Non-Conference Games: O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off 11/20-11/23, 12/1 vs. Wisconsin
Key Conference Games: 1/17 vs. Boston College, 1/25 @ Miami, 1/29 vs. Clemson, 2/28 vs. Duke
Most Valuable Player: A.D. Vassallo
Postseason Tournament: NCAA (one and done)

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Summer ACC Report: Part 2

Posted by Patrick on August 7, 2008

Last week I previewed six of the twelve ACC teams. Now here is a look at the rest of the ACC and what they will have going for them this upcoming season:

North Carolina- Of course, they are everybody’s preseason #1 (I’d like to meet the man that picks against them). The Tar Heels return reigning Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough, a solid 20 PPG and 10 RPG player next season. They also return star point guard Ty Lawson, great shooters/scorers in Wayne Ellington and Danny Green, and gain two new freshman phenoms at the forward positions. There is certainly no question that UNC is the frontrunner in the ACC, but they will have some competition because no conference game comes easy (like we saw last year when they dropped a game to Maryland on their home court).

Duke- Whenever you mention North Carolina, you next have to mention the Duke Blue Devils. Led by senior point guard Greg Paulus and returning sophomore forward Kyle Singler, the Dukies are poised to make a run at a chance for the ACC title. Other key performers will be freshman Nolan Smith, junior John Scheyer, and center Brian Zoubek. Zoubek will be the X-Factor for Duke this season; if he can play well on the inside, it will be easier to kick it out to the shooters, (Singler, Paulus, and Scheyer) but if he plays like he did last season, Duke could have trouble making it out of the second round of the NCAA tournament for the third straight year. Duke will always play great defense, which could lead to a potential upset at Cameron over the Tar Heels.

Clemson- This team’s future seems up in the air even though they’ve had a great start to the last two seasons. In 2006 they did not make the NCAA tournament, and last season they lost in the first round to a team that most people felt should have been left out of the field. Losing James Mays and Cliff Hammonds will certainly hurt the Tigers, but they do return key players like K.C. Rivers, Trevor Booker, and shooting specialist Terrence Oglesby. Recruit Catalin Baciu (7-1 center) may be able to pick up some of the rebounding slack left by Mays, but he is only a freshman and a pretty low rated recruit at that. I expect Clemson to make the tournament this year, probably as an eight or nine seed, but I don’t see them making too much noise in the ACC other than a probable top five finish.

Virginia Tech- According to Hokies coach Seth Greenberg, everyone on the NCAA selection committee was clinically insane for not putting Va Tech in the field of 65. Virginia Tech brings back three of its top four scorers in A.D. Vassallo, Jeff Allen, and Malcolm Delaney.  This is the year for this team to make the NCAA tournament. Not only do they have the talent to make the field, but they also have the motivation after last year’s “snub”. I like Virginia Tech to end up somewhere in the top six of the ACC which will probably be good enough to make the tournament as a ten seed.

Virginia- We’ll see how Virginia deals with the loss of Sean Singletary and if they can get back to where they were in the 2006-07 season. Mamadi Diane will be the leading scorer for this team in 2008, and behind him will be Calvin Baker and Laurynas Mikalauskas. It should be a tough year for fans in Charlottesville as the chances of making a post-season tournament are pretty slim even if its the CBI. Even though Dave Leitao was 2007 ACC Coach of the Year his job may be in jeopardy this season.

Boston College- Get ready to watch the Tyrese Rice show all season long as he will be wheeling and dealing his way to another first-team All ACC finish and contend for ACC player of the year. Rakim Sanders will be a great compliment to Rice, as well as Cory Raji. Probably the worst news of the offseason was Shamari Spears transferring to Charlotte. He was a key man in the paint for Boston College and his departure took this team from a Top 20 contender to a team that will have to fight its way into the NCAA tournament. Rice will get his points, but the keys for this team to win are defense and rebounding (we all saw them blow a huge halftime lead against North Carolina on their home court last season). I think they will make the tournament but it won’t be easy and they will have to do some work in the ACC tournament to get off the bubble in March.

Predicted ACC Finish:

1. North Carolina

2. Duke

3. Miami

4. Wake Forest

5. Clemson

6. Virginia Tech

7. Boston College

8. Maryland

9. Florida State

10. NC State

11. Georgia Tech

12. Virginia

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