Virginia Tech’s final non-conference home game comes on Saturday at 2pm against Georgia Southern. If the Hokies win, they’ll be 9-1 heading into an important trip to Las Vegas.
Georgia Southern is 3-5 on the season, but that’s a deceiving record. Two of their wins came over non-Division I programs Webber International and Brewton Parker. Their only Division I win of the season came over #342 Kennesaw State, who has won only one game all season.
The Eagles’ five losses look like this…
#124 Valparaiso: Former Hokie Ben Boggs had 7 points and 7 rebounds in an 85-54 win over Georgia Southern.
#33 Charlotte: 66-53. This was Georgia Southern’s best game of the year. Charlotte is undefeated, and feature former Hokie J.T. Thompson.
#81 Maryland: The Terps beat the Eagles 70-53.
#162 Elon: Elon won 55-50.
#329 Samford: Georgia Southern lost this game 57-48.
Though they’ve been close a couple of times, the Eagles have been struggling to pick up wins against Division I teams.
Here’s a look at Georgia Southern’s projected starting lineup…
G C.J. Reed (6-3, 200, Jr.): Reed originally attended Bethune-Cookman, where he was MEAC Player of the Year in 2010-11. He transferred to UCF, where he sat out last season. After the NCAA imposed sanctions on UCF, he was allowed to transfer to Georgia Southern, where he now starts. He’s averaging 9.8 points per game. Reed is a very good outside shooter.
G Tre Bussey (6-2, 185, Jr.): Bussey is starting for the first time this season, and averaging 10.4 points per game. At 35.3%, he’s a competent shooter from the outside.
G Cleon Roberts (6-5, 175, Fr.): Roberts is starting as a true freshman and averaging 9.1 points per game. He’s shooting 50% from three-point range. Overall, this is a competent outside shooting team with a 37.6% hit rate.
F Eric Ferguson (6-7, 210, Jr.): Erick Ferguson averages 15.4 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and two steals per game. That’s tops on the team in all three categories. He is Georgia Southern’s best player
F Camero Baskerville (6-7, 226, Sr.): Baskerville is Georgia Southern’s biggest player, which shows that they are a very small team. He plays just over 16 minutes per game, and averages 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Obviously Georgia Southern doesn’t have much size on the inside. Monday night’s game against Mississippi Valley State wasn’t the best in the career of Cadarian Raines. He fouled out in just 12 minutes, and had no points and only four rebounds against the smaller Delta Devils.
Virginia Tech needs more production from their big men, specifically Raines. He is having an up and down season, and it would be nice to see him come out and dominate a smaller, less talented team on the glass. Guys like C.J. Barksdale, Joey van Zegeren and Marshall Wood also shouldn’t have any trouble rebounding against this team.
9-1 Heading to Vegas?
I think the phrase “must-win game” gets thrown around way too often, but this is clearly a game Virginia Tech should not lose on their home court. The Hokies need to take a 9-1 record to Las Vegas, where they’ll face Bradley and a to-be-determined opponent (likely Colorado State if the Hokies beat Bradley…likely Portland if they lose). They’ll have a chance to improve their RPI and strength of schedule in Las Vegas. They can’t blow that opportunity be being upset at home by Georgia Southern.
At this point in the season, the RPI doesn’t mean too much, but I will point out that Virginia Tech is #115 in the country in the StatSheet.com RPI, with an 8-1 record. Tech’s victim on Monday night, Mississippi Valley State, is #85 in the RPI with an 0-6 record, because they’ve played six road games. As the season progresses, the Delta Devils will drop like a rock, and Tech will move up based purely on strength of school. However, Tech won’t move up on Saturday. This game is about holding serve at home, because a home loss to Georgia Southern would be a disaster.
If the Hokies do win tomorrow, they’ll be 9-1 when they board their plane for Las Vegas. How many of us saw that coming before the season began? Not me.
Saturday’s game tips off at 2pm, and can be seen online at ESPN3.com.