The Citadel (0-0) vs. Virginia Military (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 11th, 11:59 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Clune Arena (5,858) -- USAFA, Colorado. Television: 0-00-0. Home Record: Citadel 0-0, VMI 0-0. Away Record: Citadel 0-0, VMI 0-0. Neutral Record: Citadel 0-0, VMI 0-0. Conference Record: Citadel 0-0, VMI 0-0. Series Record: The Citadel leads, 53-44.
GAME NOTES: Clune Arena in Colorado is the site of the All-Military Classic this year, as The Citadel Bulldogs and the Keydets of Virginia Military Institute square off on the home floor of the Air Force Falcons. These two teams will be back in action on Saturday against Air Force and Army, with matchups to be determined pending the outcomes of tonight's games.
The Keydets, winners of their last three season openers, are coming off a year in which they produced an 18-13 overall record under head coach Duggar Baucom, now in his sixth season at the helm. The top scoring team in the nation again last year with 87.9 ppg, VMI was 10-8 versus the rest of the Big South Conference, but after defeating Winthrop in the conference tournament (78-73), the squad saw its run come to an end with an 89-81 loss at Coastal Carolina.
As for the Bulldogs, they put up a disappointing record of 10-22 last season and it wasn't until the middle of January that the squad was able to put together back-to-back victories. The Citadel delivered a 6-12 mark against the rest of the Southern Conference and after losing eight of the last nine games during the regular season, saw the campaign draw to a close with an 85-74 loss to Elon in the conference tournament.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, this is a relationship that dates back to 1921, although the programs have not met since 2003 when VMI posted a 58-49 win over the Bulldogs. Despite the most recent setback eight years ago, The Citadel still leads the all-time series by a count of 53-44.
A young team this season, The Citadel has just one senior on the roster in Cosmo Morabbi. Coming off the bench in all 16 of his appearances last year, Morabbi was responsible for a mere 1.4 ppg and was just a 29 percent shooter from the floor. Center Mike Groselle is the long returning starter from last year and was responsible for 11.5 ppg and a team-high 6.4 rpg as he appeared in all but one of the team's 32 games. Groselle shot an impressive 60.1 percent from the floor, but as a team the Bulldogs were just 42.8 percent accurate from the field. Perhaps the biggest concern for the Bulldogs heading into this new season is whether or not they'll have a perimeter presence on offense as no one on the current roster had more than nine three-pointers a year ago.
VMI was the top scoring offense in the nation again last season, but at the same time the defense was always willing to trade baskets assuming the Keydets could counter in quick transition. The team ranked 333rd out of the 336 Division I teams tracked by the NCAA, in scoring defense (82.1 ppg), so there wasn't always margin for error. Gunners from the perimeter like none other, the Keydets led the nation with 11.3 three-pointers per game, and that trend should continue with the return of both Keith Gabriel and Rodney Glasgow who combined to convert 110 triples last season. In addition to creating scoring chances for himself, Glasgow is someone who can set up his teammates as well, something that Stan Okoye (16.8 ppg) will certainly be looking forward to. Okoye is also the strongest interior presence for the Keydets after clearing eight rebounds per game last season.
As long as the Keydets are the ones setting the pace it will be VMI that has the inside track for the win tonight. The scoring could get out of hand of course, but given the youth of The Citadel it doesn't seem likely the final score will wind up favoring the Bulldogs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: VMI 102, The Citadel 75
11/11 10:34:38 ET