Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic Primer

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Virginia Tech travels west to Las Vegas, where they will play two games this weekend.  They hope to get back on the right track after being upset by Georgia Southern in Blacksburg last weekend.

Bradley Braves: 8-2, #145 RPI, #320 SOS

Virginia Tech’s first opponent will be the Bradley Braves.  The game will be played on Saturday night at 8pm, and it will not be televised, and will not be available on ESPN3.

Notable games: Bradley played Michigan (#4 RPI) very tight, falling 74-66.  Their best win came against #65 Central Michigan 82-65.  They were blown out by #128 South Florida 82-63.

Head coach: Geno Ford.  Ford was the head coach at Kent State, where he went 19-15, 24-10 and 25-12 in three seasons before leaving for Bradley.  The Braves only went 7-25 a year ago, but in his second season at the helm, Ford has already exceeded his win total from a year ago.  The program appears to be moving in a good direction.

Key Players

G Dyricus Simms-Edwards (6-3, 197, Sr.): 9.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.2 spg.  Simms-Edwards is a very good defensive guard.  He could draw the Erick Green assignment in this game.

G Walt Lemon, Jr. (6-3, 178, Jr.): 13 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.5 apg.  Lemon is Bradley’s leading scorer, and he does it primarily inside the arc.

G Jake Eastman (6-5, 207, Sr.): 8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3 apg. Eastman is a solid all-around player.  Though he’s not a great shooter from the outside (31.8%), he makes enough shots to show up on the scouting report.

F Tyshon Pickett (6-6, 220, Jr.): 12.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.5 apg. An undersized power forward, Pickett is still a productive player.  He is a good rebounder, and it will be up to C.J. Barksdale to check him.

C Will Egolf (6-9, 235, Sr.): 9.9 ppg, 6 rpg, 1.1 apg.  Egolf has been very good from outside the three-point line, going 10-of-22 (45.5%) on the season.

First off the bench: C Jordan Prosser (6-9, 240, Jr.).  Averaging 9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg per game, James Johnson believes that Prosser is Bradley’s best post player.

Quick Bradley Notes

Strength: Bradley is a good passing team, averaging 15.1 points assists per game (#50 nationally).  They rank #54 in assists per possession.

Weakness: Bradley can’t shoot the ball from the outside, hitting just 26.8% of their outside jumpers this season.  That ranks #327 in the country.

Colorado State Rams: 8-2, #48 RPI, #177 SOS

The Rams made the NCAA Tournament last season, and are looking solid so far in 2012-13.  Virginia Tech could potentially play Colorado State on Sunday.

Notable Games: The Rams beat #89 Washington 73-55.  They were defeated by #3 Colorado 70-61, and by #28 Illinois-Chicago 64-55.

Head coach: Larry Eustachy is in his first season as Colorado State’s head coach.  He has over 400 wins throughout the course of his career, and is known as one of college basketball’s most notorious partiers.

Key Players

G Dorian Green (6-2, 192, Sr.): 12.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 38 assists. Green has started all 10 games for Colorado State.  He’s a competent outside shooter (33.3%), and has a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

G Wes Eikmeier (6-3, 168, r-Sr.): 9.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 21 assists.  Eikmeier is Colorado State’s top outside shooter, knocking down three-pointers at a 40% clip.

F Pierce Hornung (6-5, 210, Sr.): 7.9 ppg, 10 rpg, 12 steals, 7 blocks.  Hornung isn’t a big scorer, but he’s an excellent shot blocker, and he also leads the team in steals and blocked shots.  Jarell Eddie needs to keep him off the offensive glass.

F Greg Smith (6-6, 221, Sr.): 12.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 12 assists.  Another undersized power forward, Smith is a productive player.  He will match up with C.J. Barksdale.

C Colton Iverson (6-10, 261, r-Sr.): 14.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 14 assists.  Iverson is a big center who nearly averages a double-double.  He will be a very difficult matchup for Cardarian Raines, if these two teams meet.

First off the bench: Daniel Bejarano (6-4, 202, r-So.) plays 20 minutes per game in Colorado State’s backcourt.

Quick Colorado State Notes

Strength: Experience and rebounding.  Colorado State starts five seniors, including two fifth year seniors.  They are crushing opponents on the boards this year.

Weakness: Athleticism.  Though Colorado State has many talented players, they lack the athleticism possessed by teams from BCS-level conferences.

Portland Pilots: 6-6, #255 RPI, #238 SOS

Portland is the other possible opponent for Virginia Tech on Sunday.

Notable games: Quality losses to #8 New Mexico (69-54), #15 UNLV (68-60) and #67 Kentucky (74-46).  Portland has yet to beat a team ranked in the top 200 of the RPI.

Head coach: Eric Reveno has a 85-105 record in six seasons as Portland’s head coach.

Key Players

G David Carr (6-3, 170, So.): 4.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.6 apg.  Carr runs the point for the Pilots, and he is a Portland native.  He does a solid job of running the team, though he won’t scare anyone from a scoring standpoint.

G Korey Thieleke (6-3, 170, Jr.): 6.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.5 apg.  Thieleke leads the team in steals with 15.

G Kevin Bailey (6-5, 190, So.): 13.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apg.  Bailey is Portland’s best guard.  He’s a competent shooter from the outside (37.9%).

F Ryan Nicholas (6-7, 235, Jr.): 13.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.9 apg.  Nicholas is clearly Portland’s best player.  He averages almost a double-double per game, and he can score from inside and outside.

C Thomas van der Mars (6-11, 225, So.): 7.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.0 apg.  Portland’s tallest player, van der Mars finishes well inside and plays just over 20 minutes per game.

First off the bench: Tanner Riley (6-3, 200, Jr.) averages 6.3 points per game off the bench.  He is shooting 39.5% from three-point range.

Quick Portland Notes

Strength: Eric Reveno likes to use his bench to keep his players fresh.  Whoever plays Portland on the second day of the tournament could be facing a fresher team.

Weakness: Portland is the least talented team taking part in this tournament.

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