NIT 1st Round Preview | duquesne (21-12) @ VT (18-14) | Wed., 7 PM | ESPNU


Note: Please remember to Support Shirtlessness tonight by taking your shirt off at halftime, whether you are at the game, at home watching, in the bathroom at work (yes, someone really did this last week during the miami day game), or at Bailey’s.  Shirtless Halftime is quickly becoming one of the great VT traditions.  So once that clock hits triple-zero at the end of the first 20 minutes, show the world you are tired of being oppressed by shirts.  We want a 51% Shirtless Halftime participation level for our cause by 2012.

Spread: VT by 8

Good Omen: Speaking of eight – the Hokies have won their NIT opener in the last eight NITs they have played in.  The only time they lost a NIT opener was in 1966, Tech’s first ever postseason appearance.  Add to that the fact VT has won their last nine tournament openers, and you have some good mojo for tonight.

Ah, yes, what every kid fears when shooting on their local black top growing up: to play on ESPNU in March.  That means just one thing: your invite to the Big Dance didn’t come and you are stuck heading to the Junior Prom, the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) with that hefty red head with braces, otherwise known as duquesne.  It could be worse, we could be sitting at home all alone with nothing to do but play Dungeons and Dragons online with other nerds like some other school I know.  And even worse, their dad just skipped town.

That said, motivation could be an issue in this game for players and fans.  Last year the Baby Hokies were fired up after getting snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Committee and ready to show the world they deserved a bid.  They bear-fighted morgan state by 32 and then uab by 26 before succumbing to mississippi and that real partyboy, Andy Kennedy.

This year, the Hokies came into the season with the expectation of being in the Big Dance.  Most college basketball analysts had Tech firmly in the field of 65.  But the game isn’t played on paper, it is played in big gigantic domes and such.  And things didn’t go the Hokies way much of the season. 

Now, the Hokies have to forget about the NCAAs.  Will the team be fired up for this?  Will seniors A.D. Vassallo and Cheick Diakite be disappointed at missing out on one more shot at the NCAAs?  We shall see.  Will the fans come out in droves like they did last year and turn the Cassell into the rowdy atmosphere it was last NIT?  We shall see.  All I know is the students were amazing last year.  Probably close to half the fans at the games were students.  3000 free student tickets have been offered up for this one, but we need the rest of you students to pony up the $5 to get in.  And alumni/fans, please show your support with $15 for the Hokies.  If you are fired up and loud, it will give the team a big lift.


  • All-Time: 7-5
  • In Blacksburg: 5-0
  • As Members of the A-10: 7-3


  1. Virginia Tech has won their first game in the last nine tournaments they’ve played in dating back to 2006.
  2. Tech has won the NIT twice – 1973 and 1995.
  3. This marks the first time the Hokies have made a postseason tournament three years in a row since 1982-86 when the Hokies went five years in a row.
  4. Malcolm Delaney made 16/26 shots, 9/15 three pointers, and scored 44 points in the three NIT games last season.
  5. Cheick Diakite sits in fifth place on the VT all time blocked shot list.
  6. With nine points in this game, A.D. Vassallo will move ahead of former teammate Zabian Dowdell into sixth place on the all time VT scoring list.  With 28, he moves into fifth.


Virginia Tech 






Point Guard

23 – Delaney




Shooting Guard

5 – Hudson




Small Forward/Wing

40 – Vassallo




Power Forward

0 – Allen





34 – Diakite





1 – Bell





10 – Thorns





14 – Davila





21 – Witcher




33 – Thompson

 6’6″ 5.8 So 








1 – Jackson





13 – Duty





23 – Bolding





30 – Clark





25 – Saunders





3 – Evans





32 – Monteiro





54 – Lewinson













Click ‘Read more’ to see the rest of the preview…


duquesne may only be a #7 seed in the NIT but they aren’t exactly chopped liver.  They finished 74th in the RPI, just 13 spots behind the Hokies.  And they will be excited to be in the NIT, although it has to sting they were just five or six points away from the Big Dance.  They went 9-7 in the Atlantic 10 during the regular season, tying for fifth in a league that sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament.  Then they won three in a row in the A-10 Tournament before falling to cross state rival temple in the championship game.  That included wins over 22-10 rhode island and NCAA Tournament bound dayton, whom they beat by 11. 

The Hokies and dukes had three common opponents: duke, xavier, and richmond.  duquesne lost by 23 at duke (VT lost by 25), beat xavier at home by 4 (VT lost by 1 in OT), and lost at richmond by 4 (VT beat ur at home by 14).

The dukes are led by All-Atlantic 10 senior point guard Aaron Jackson.  He led the team in scoring (18.5) and assists (5.8), and finished second in rebounds (5.5).  He shot an amazing 55% from the field, which is unheard of from a guard.  He also made over 80% of his free throws and gets to the line for almost six attempts per game.

duquesne loves to chuck it from deep.  From behind the arc, Jason Duty and Bill Clark are the dukes’ best threats.  Both hit around 40% of their attempts.  They shoot around nine threes per game between them, making just under four of them.  Jackson, Damien Saunders, Melquan Bolding, and Eric Evans average one make per game each and shoot between 28-38%.  Every one of their starters attempted at least 100 threes this season and they shot 795 threes in total.  By comparison, VT tried just 568 three-pointers and only two guys had more than 62 attempts.  The Hokies will have to guard everyone on the perimeter.

Why so many threes?  Easy — the dukes have no size inside.  Saunders is their only true forward, and he weighs just 210 pounds.  Only three of their eight players that will likely see minutes are over 200 pounds, and just one if bigger than Saunders.  That is Oliver Lewinson at 6’9″ and 240, but he averages less than 10 minutes a game.  They play small ball and like to push things, averaging 78 points per game, good for second in their conference.  But they gave up 73.5 ppg, 12th out of 14 teams. 

Despite duquesne’s lack of size and post players, VT must be wary of long rebounds on missed threes and get back to force duquesne into half court sets.  duquesne averaged 11 offensive rebounds per game.  But the dukes are not a good rebounding team.  They were just one of five A-10 teams (again, out of 14) that finished with a negative rebounding margin on the season.   pittsburgh was +25 on the glass against the small duquesne team.

On defense, the dukes don’t block many shots (just over three per game) but did lead the A-10 in steals with 7.7 per game.  Tech must protect the ball like they did in the unc game. 

Jeff Allen must show up in this game.  He should be able to have a field day inside.  He has struggled of late, but he did do well earlier in the season against smaller teams.

Boring Facts about duquesne:

  • Private
  • Started in 1878 as a Catholic college
  • 10k students (6k undergrad, 4k grad)
  • Located in Pittsburgh, PA
  • 10 men’s and 10 women’s varsity sports.   They are I-AA in football.
  • Famous alums: John Clayton (the professor/not-made for HDTV), Art and Dan Rooney (Steeler owners), Norm Nixon (former NBA player)
  • duquesne won the NIT in 1955

This post was written by:

- who has written 1284 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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2 Responses to “NIT 1st Round Preview | duquesne (21-12) @ VT (18-14) | Wed., 7 PM | ESPNU”

  1. vatechhokies50 says:

    duquesne’s coach is a Virginia Tech Alumni… he has to be jacked coming back to the ‘Burg… Hokies win.

  2. vatechhokies50 says:

    I just bought 9 tickets for students ($5 per ticket, $5 service charge = $50). There is no team we can’t beat when we have thousands of students at the Cassell.


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