2011 NIT Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Bethune-Cookman

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  • Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
  • Time: 8pm
  • TV: ESPNU

Though it’s not the postseason they were looking for, #1 seed Virginia Tech
will face #8 Bethune-Cookman in the opening round of the NIT in Cassell Coliseum
on Wednesday night. If the Hokies win, they’ll take on either #4 Wichita State
or #5 Nebraska.

Like me, you’ve seen Bethune-Cookman scroll across the bottom line on ESPN
from time to time. Like me, you don’t know anything about them. Here’s a quick
background check.

  • Bethune-Cookman is a private university in Daytona Beach,
    FL.
  • Enrollment: 4,000
  • Established: 1904
  • Mascot: Wildcats
  • Colors: Maroon and Gold

As far as their basketball team goes, Bethune-Cookman is 21-12, and they went
13-3 during the regular season in the MEAC this year. The Wildcats were the #1
seed in the MEAC Tournament, but they were knocked out in the semifinals by
Morgan State. As a result, they landed a #8 seed in the NIT, though they were
very close to playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Bethune-Cookman is coached by Cliff Reed, a Bethune-Cookman grad. Reed has
done a good job with that program, and he’s served as the head coach since 2002.
His son is C.J. Reed, the team’s leading scorer and MEAC Player of the Year.


Bethune-Cookman Starting Lineup

Pos.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

PPG

RPG
G C.J. Reed 6-3 175 Jr. 19.1 3.8
G Stanley Elliot 6-3 160 Jr. 5.2 2.5
F Javoris Bryant 6-6 200 So. 5.2 3.5
F Garrius Holloman 6-6 210 Jr. 11.3 6.6
F Alexander Starling 6-6 205 Sr. 10.9 6.7

Like most small conference teams, Bethune-Cookman doesn’t have a lot of size.
They start two guards, and three players that are roughly the same size as
Virginia Tech small forward Terrell Bell.

As a result, the Wildcats aren’t a very effective rebounding team. Their
rebounding margin is -3, and they have been totally outclassed on the inside in
their two games against power conference opponents (83-39 loss to Baylor, 78-45
loss to Arizona).

This should be a great matchup for Virginia Tech’s Jeff Allen and Victor
Davila. On paper, Allen and Davila should be able to put up big numbers against
the smaller Bethune-Cookman starting lineup. The Wildcats do have Albert
Abrahams (6-9, 320, Sr.) on the inside, and he takes up quite a bit of space.
However, Abrahams plays just 12 minutes per game despite his size, and averages
four points and 2.8 rebounds. He isn’t skilled enough to be a factor against a
team like Virginia Tech.

The biggest thing to worry about is C.J. Reed heating up and having a big
game. Reed is the best player in the MEAC, and he took over 500 shots this year.
He’s not afraid to shoot the ball, and because of his volume of shots, if he
gets hot he can put up big numbers.

Overall, the Wildcats get good guard play. They are +2.5 in turnover margin,
which is a very good mark. Despite their lack of size inside, the frontcourt is
athletic and has active hands. This team forced 486 turnovers during the regular
season, so the Hokies will have to be strong with the ball. If they limit
Bethune-Cookman’s possessions, they shouldn’t have much trouble winning.

As good as Reed is, the most difficult opponent for Virginia Tech will be
their own minds. This is a team that everyone expected to be in the NCAA
Tournament after they beat Florida State in the ACC Tournament. 87 of 89 major
online brackets had the Hokies in, yet they were left out. That’s disappointing,
especially for Tech’s trio of seniors who have never made the Big Dance. Will
they be ready to play? It’s only human nature to have a letdown.

Even if the Hokies do let down, this is a game they should win without much
of a problem. Three years ago Tech beat #8 seed Morgan State 92-64 in the NIT,
and last year they knocked off #8 seed Quinnipiac 81-61. #8 seeds have never
given Virginia Tech much of a problem, and the Hokies outclass Bethune-Cookman
in talent, size and athleticism. Tech has won all three of their first round NIT
games over the last few years, and on paper, they should win this one pretty
easily too.

This will also be new ground for Bethune-Cookman. The Wildcats have never
played in a postseason tournament before, and their average home attendance is
674. Cassell Coliseum is not exactly going to be packed for the game tonight,
but it’s going to be a different setting for the visiting team.

If the Hokies get past the Wildcats tonight, they will play the winner of #4
Wichita State and #5 Nebraska. That game will also be played tonight, at 7pm on
ESPN2.

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