HAPPY HOKIE DAY! Tech will try and lock up 3rd Place in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday when they play the oklahoma state cowboys. As fate would have it, Virginia Tech also plays okie state on New Year’s Eve in Stillwater. Yep, the Hokies play osu twice this regular season but play six of the ACC teams just once. Go figure. Add in the fact VT played osu in the 76 Classic last year, also on the day after Thanksgiving, and that means the Hokies will have played the pokes three times in just over 13 months.
This is a critical game for the Hokies. While it is disappointing for the team to have played so hard Wednesday against #5 syracuse, and led the entire first 27 minutes, but lost, Tech has to rinse that from their minds. It’s easy to say ‘this is just a 3rd place game’ and take it for granted, but it is much bigger than that. Virginia Tech needs to stockpile quality out of conference wins, something they haven’t been able to do the last four years. While okie state is not a great team, and certainly not a lock for the Big Dance (they also lost in the 2nd Round of the NIT last year), it would be a quality win and almost certainly a top 100 win, if not better. VT cannot afford to leave the Big Apple 0-2. So eat your turkey and re-focus on tomorrow.
oklahoma state lost to stanford in the first NIT semi-final on Wednesday. The game was tied at 29-29 before the cardinal used a 17-6 run to close the half and lead 46-35 at the break. stanford then scored the first 12 points of the second half to go up 58-35, and it was a laugher after that. The cardinal led by as many as 28 before a late, meaningless, osu run made the final score stanford 82, osu 67.
Tech will not have to deal with Marshall Moses this year for the okie pokeys. The big man has graduated, taking away their leading scorer from a year ago. Moses had 14 points and 11 boards against VT last year. Jean-Paul Olekemi, who led osu with 17 against VT last year, is back. As is sharpshooting Keiton Page, though he comes off the bench now and really struggled against the Hokies last year.
None of the returning Hokies reached double digits in points last year (Erick Green was out with an injury). But Davila chipped in 9 points and Tyrone Garland had a key 6 points and a steal to help VT win 56-51. The game was tied with 2 minutes to go when Seth switched to a 1-3-1 half court trap that gave osu fits, leading to turnovers and a Hokie win.
This year, okie state is young just like the Hokies. The cowboys’ two leading scorers are freshmen – Cezar Guerrero (14 ppg) and Le’Bryan Nash (13 ppg). Guerrero is a 6′ guard who can hit from deep and slash to the hoop. Nash is a 6’7″ wing who does most of his damage from 16′ in, and gets to the line a lot.
osu has some size inside, but not like they usually do. Their big men, other than Nash who is a specimen for a freshman, are mostly space-eaters and don’t produce a lot in terms of points or rebounds. Markel Brown is their best rebounder and he’s a 6’3″ guard.
This is a solid match-up for the Hokies. If VT comes out and plays hard, I think they are the slightly better team. Tech needs a win and needs to play that way… this game isn’t for a NIT title, but it could be for a NCAA bid.
Last of all, let me say my thoughts and prayers go out to the osu community and the victims and families of their latest air disaster that took their women’s basketball head coach. It is the second time in 10 years their basketball programs have been badly hit with an air disaster.