Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State
NIT Tip off Championship Final Round
Spread: Va Tech -2.5
Tip off: 2:30 PM EST
Betting Odds taken from Bookmaker
Last season the favored Virginia Tech Hokies finished with a 22-12 record, and lost to Wichita State in the second round of the NIT. They had a 9-7 record in the ACC.
They had three medical redshirts last year: Dorenzo Hudson, 2010 sixth man J.T. Thompson, and Cadarian Raines. Erick Green had to pick up the slack last season, and they weren’t a particularly deep team past their starting lineup as a result of the medical problems. They had a pretty solid year, and they rated higher than any other team that didn’t make the field of 68. Green is a key part of the team once again, though his role will be reduced. Through 3 games, he is the second leading scorer at 12.3 pionts per game, and is shooting 56.5% from the floor and he has hit 8 of 12 from deep so far this year.
A big reason for the Hokies solid status as a program is Seth Greenburg’s great recruiting. He signed #18 recruit Dorian Finney-Smith and also two other top 100 recruits in Robert Brown and C.J. Barksdale. Ordinarily, Greenburg doesn’t go after the top shelf talents, but he surprised many other programs when he landed Finney-Smith.
Finney-Smith has seen 120 minutes of play so far in 4 games and is averaging 6.8 points per game and 10.0 boards per game, not to mention dishing out 4.0 assists per game while blocking over a shot (1.3) per game. Opening night, against East Tennessee State, he played nearly the entire game (36 mins) and grabbed 16 rebounds. He was only 2 of 7 from the floor, but got to the line and hit 6 of his 8 free throws. He has also already had two games with 5 assists, showcasing his versatility as both a big man and a step out passer.
6’5″ senior guard Dorenzo Hudson was the third leading scorer on a 2010 team that did make the NCAA tournament. He was sidelined with a foot injury last season as the team just barely missed their place in the Big Dance. The problem for the Hokies is they appear they may be a bubble team once again. Hudson will be a key in whether or not they take it to the next level, but all indications so far are that the Charlotte native will have a career year. In a 15 point win over Florida International on Nov 15th, he put up 31 points, including 3 of 5 from downtown and 12 of 12 from the line. On the season, he is shooting 56.8% from the field. Throw out a 9 point stinker from opening night, and Hudson averages 20.6 points per game.
Last season, Oklahoma State finished with a 20-14 record and a 6-10 record in the Big 12. They lost to Washington State 74-64 in the second round of the NIT. It was the worst season for the Cowboys since 2007, but there are a lot of reasons for optimism.
Like Virginia Tech, that main reason would be the recruiting going on. Travis Ford lured in Le’Bryan Nash, one of the most highly recruited players to enter the program in a long time. The 6’7 230 pound freshman will be their most talented player and number one option from day 1 and he is ranked 3rd in the 2011 class of small forwards. He’s long and quick and will excel on defense eventually, while his offensive skills are already there. His immediate impact has been felt, as he has scored 13.0 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game through his first four NCAA games. One thing that is disconcerting is his 37% field goal percentage, but as his shot selection improves and he becomes more comfortable against better competition, that number should rise. He has scored in double figures in 3 of Oklahoma State’s first four games, with his worst game being a 2 of 8 shooting night against Arkansas Pine Bluff, though the poor game was offset by the fact that the Cowboys won by 32 points.
Their best player (arguably, since most of his damage came in one awesome game) so far has been Cezar Guerrero. The diminutive freshman from Bellflower, California is averaging 14.0 points per game, but 29 of his 56 points this season came on one game: a 10 of 23 shooting night against UTSA. His 23 shots that night are 2 more than he has shot in the other three games combined.
Keiton Page is going to have to play much better. He started 45 of his 68 games his first two years at Oklahoma State but he fell apart when he moved to the point guard position last year. He got more aggressive though. He used to be primarily a three piont shooter, but last season got to the line 4.4 times per game, hitting a stellar 89.4% from the line. Still, his field goal percentage was in the cellar at 37.4% and through the first four games this season he is even worse, at 30%, not to mention he is ice cold from beyond the arc where he is 2 of 13 (15.4%).
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