Saturday, November 15, 2008

Headed to Blacksburg

Who plays?: Mt. St. Mary's (1-0) travels to Cassell Coliseum to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0)

What's at stake?: The Mount gets a chance to put its Mid-major ranking (#22) on the line, on the road against an ACC team. This is the type of team that the Mount players were snubbed by the in the recruiting process. So there is a sense of trying to prove they belong when the ball is tipped. For the Hokies, they desperately want to get back to the NCAA tournament. They just missed last year, and feel they were slighted when the brackets were announced. This type of game probably has the opportunity to do more harm than good. But if all go as planned for the Mount, this will end up being a top half RPI game for Tech and one that they might even be able to call a quality win at the end of the season.

When is tipoff?: Monday night basketball. 8:00pm. Just ahead of the Monday Night Football game. But let's be honest the Bills and Browns don't really have your attention anyhow.

Where is the game?: The Mount is on the road for the second straight game, while Tech is home for the second straight outing. So the game is on campus in Blacksburg at the Cassell Coliseum. For those of you unable to make the trip down I-81, its live on Comcast - channel 642 on DIRECTV. If you can't pull it in on the TV, WTHU-AM Thurmont 1450 will have the radio call. Steve Stofberg and The Coach Roy Sigler bring you the action on the Mount Radio Network. And if you can't get any of that, or you can and are still in front of the computer, join us right here on The Fan Blog for a little bit of a Live Blog as we share our thoughts during the action.

The Analysis: This is one of those games that as a small Division I team you have to play. From a budgetary standpoint, these games and the checks that come with them, essentially cover the costs of the program for the season. But with that said, every year there are a handful (or a few handfuls) of teams that win in these situations. VMI won at Kentucky last night, the Mount won at Georgia Tech the other year. It happens. The Mount's guard play and athleticism will push the Hokies. This will be a good test for Seth Greenberg's group as they look to prepare themselves for a long season, that they hope ends in the ACC tournament.

Advantages for Mt. St. Mary's: Friday night's win should push the Mount forward into this contest. The team played very well for periods on Friday night. However, the Mount will not be able to suffer through the down periods that it went through during the game on Friday night. Jeremy Goode's 2008-09 debut was everything that was to be expected. The Cousy nominee led the Mount with 25 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. As Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos said, "Goode is as good a point guard as we are going to play." That's high praise -- but it shows that the Mountie leader can play at the level that will be needed against Tech. The play of Kelly Beidler (17 points, 12 rebounds) is the type of effort that will be needed from him all season. He could deliver. Meanwhile, the Mount got solid contributions inside from Sam and Shawn Atupem and Markus Mitchell as they combined for 29 points and 9 rebounds from the two frontline positions.

Advantages for Virginia Tech: The Hokies might have gotten the needed wakeup call when they saw Gardner-Webb climb back into the Opener Friday Night at Tech. The Hokies have a big three in Malcolm Delaney, AJ Vassallo and Jeff Allen that cover the whole floor for them and will be as talented a trio as the Mount sees all year.

What to expect?: Expect the Mount to come right at Virginia Tech. If they didn't back down from Carolina in the tournament a year ago, they aren't likely to shy away from the Hokies. The up-tempo style we saw at the end of the last year, was even enhanced in the opener at Loyola. The Mount was very efficient in that game and shot the ball well. How efficient they are able to be against the bigger, quicker Hokies will be a key.

Seth Greenberg is always one of my more favorite coaches. I think he'll adjust a little to what went on Friday night and challenge his Hokies a bit and have them ready. With Allen inside the Hokies may have too much for the Mount to handle because of its size.

Ultimately, I think the Mount will battle and will show its talent in this environment. However, I don't think that the equation is right for an upset. The Mount likely will have an early lead, but Tech should take control midway through the second half. I'll be rooting against it, but I expect the Hokies to prevail 76-67.

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