Quinnipiac (23-9) at Virginia Tech (23-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 17th, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cassell Coliseum (9,847) -- Blacksburg, Virginia. Television: None. NIT Record: Quinnipiac 0-0, Virginia Tech 21-8. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Winners of two NIT titles, the Virginia Tech Hokies begin their quest for a third championship tonight as they host the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the 73rd annual event at Cassell Coliseum.
A number-one seed for the 2010 tourney, the Hokies were one of the last teams considered for the NCAA Tournament but again failed to make the cut. VaTech had tremendous non-conference success with 13 wins in 15 opportunities, but the squad was just 10-6 versus the rest of the ACC in 2009-10. The Hokies won back-to-back games against NC State and Georgia Tech to close out the regular season, but bowed to Miami in the ACC Tournament by a score of 70-65.
As for the Bobcats, representing the Northeast Conference, they just missed out on the NCAA Tournament this year as they fell to Robert Morris in the title game of the conference tournament last week, 52-50. Back on February 27th, Quinnipiac clinched its first-ever NEC regular-season championship with a 74-65 victory at Fairleigh Dickinson, assuring the Bobcats of a berth in the NIT if they failed to win the conference tournament. This game marks the program's Division I national postseason tournament debut.
The Hokies have a NIT record of 21-8 and trophies stemming from championships in both 1973 and 1995.
The winner of this first-ever meeting will take on the winner of the Northeastern/UConn contest in second-round action.
Heading the list of players to watch for the Bobcats is Justin Rutty who was named the NEC Player of the Year by the league's coaches. Rutty, the first Quinnipiac player to be named the NEC POY since the school joined the conference in 1998-99, averaged 15.0 ppg and led the league with 10.8 rpg. But Rutty was not alone on the All-NEC First Team as he was joined by teammate James Feldeine, who was first on the unit with his 17.3 ppg this season. The duo helped the Bobcats and head coach Tom Moore establish new school highs in terms of total wins (23) at the Division I level and NEC victories (15). More than just a scorer, Feldeine also logged a triple-double this season against Monmouth with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, so clearly he can handle all aspect of the game for the Bobcats when needed. James Johnson is another of the important pieces to the puzzle after he averaged 11.9 ppg and handed out 124 assists over 32 starts.
Helping the Hokies receive a fourth seed in the ACC Tournament this season, Malcolm Delaney was a unanimous selection to the All-ACC First Team as he stepped up to become the league's regular-season scoring champion. Just the second VaTech player to be a unanimous selection to the all-conference team, Delaney had 16 games with at least 20 points and finished with 20.4 ppg in the 30 games in which he played. As someone who forced the action, Delaney wasn't much of a shooter from the floor at just 39.1 percent, but in making a whopping 213-of-252 at the free-throw line he was unstoppable. Dorenzo Hudson, named to the All-ACC Third Team, was responsible for another 14.5 ppg for the Hokies, although his mere 28.4 percent accuracy behind the three-point line left a lot to be desired. Then again, the team as a whole shot just 30.8 percent out on the perimeter.
Getting to the postseason is a victory in itself for the Bobcats, so coming home with a win would certainly be a stretch against a program that felt it was slighted by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 88, Quinnipiac 64
03/17 10:31:00 ET