Bethune-Cookman (21-12) at Virginia Tech (21-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 16th, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cassell Coliseum (9,847) -- Blacksburg, Virginia. Television: ESPNU. NIT Record: Bethune-Cookman 0-0, Virginia Tech 23-9. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats have earned their first-ever postseason berth as a Division I program, and they are clearly underdogs in this NIT first-round game against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
A second-round matchup with either fourth-seeded Wichita State or fifth-seeded Nebraska awaits the winner of this tilt.
A member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Bethune-Cookman owns a 21-12 overall record and finished 13-3 versus league foes during the regular season. Unfortunately, the Wildcats' dream of reaching the NCAA Tournament was crushed when it lost to Morgan State in the MEAC Tournament. That defeat halted an eight-game win streak for Bethune-Cookman, which is led by head coach Cliff Reed.
It has been well publicized that Virginia Tech has been shunned by the NCAA Tournament selection committee the last four years. As a result, the Hokies are playing in their fourth consecutive NIT and 12th in program history. They are 23-9 all-time in this event and have won the championship twice, most recently in 1995. Tech is 21-11 overall this season and won two games in the ACC Tournament before falling to Duke in the semifinal round.
Virginia Tech won its only previous meeting with Bethune-Cookman back in 2005, 69-58.
Bethune-Cookman is fortunate to have the type of individual capable of taking over a game at the offensive end of the court. C.J. Reed, the MEAC Player of the Year, averages 19.1 ppg to go along with 158 assists and 55 steals. On a down note, Reed is only shooting 39.3 percent from the field. Garrius Holloman checks with 11.3 ppg on 52.1 percent field goal efficiency, and his 6.6 rpg rank second on the roster. The top rebounder is Alexander Starling (6.7 rpg), and he is scoring 10.9 ppg while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor. Bethune-Cookman puts up 66.3 ppg, just marginally better than the 65.5 ppg that the team surrenders.
Virginia Tech star guard Malcolm Delaney scored 19 points against Duke in the ACC Tournament, but his 4-of-14 shooting effort from the field left much to be desired. Delaney is averaging more than 38 minutes per game this season, and while his 41.4 percent overall shooting isn't exactly impressive, he is a 40.2 percent shooter from three-point range and knocks down 85 percent of his foul shots. In addition to 18.6 ppg, Delaney tops the roster with 129 assists and 52 steals. Jeff Allen contributes 13.3 ppg and a team-high 9.9 rpg, while Erick Green adds 11.4 ppg. The Hokies are averaging 69.8 ppg and have played well at the defensive end, limiting opponents to 62.5 ppg.
Virginia Tech has now been a top seed in this tournament each of past three seasons and figures to cruise to victory in this first-round game. It would surprise no one if the Hokies won the NIT title.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 81, Bethune-Cookman 62
03/16 10:34:49 ET