Virginia Tech Hokies (22-11) vs. Wichita State Shockers (25-8)
NIT Second Round
Time: 11 a.m. EDT
Date: Sunday, March 20, 2011
Place: Cassell Coliseum (9,947)
And then there were six? It's possible Virginia Tech will be down to six scholarship players when it hosts Wichita State from the Missouri Valley Conference this Sunday in the second round of the NIT.
Victor Davila, one of three scholarship forwards left for the Hokies, suffered a shoulder injury in their first-round win over Bethune-Cookman and was limited to 13 minutes. After the game, head coach Seth Greenberg told the media Davila is questionable against Wichita State with what could range anywhere from a torn labrum to a bruise.
If Davila can't go, it will leave Tech with Jeff Allen and Terrell Bell with walk-on Andrew Griffin at forward. Another walk-on, football player Prince Parker, broke his foot Feb. 28 while dunking in practice (this is why Marcus Davis wasn't allowed to play).
The Hokies already have one of the shortest benches in the country. They get the fourth-fewest bench minutes by percentage according to Ken Pomeroy. Compare that to Wichita State, which is 10th in the country in bench minute percentage.
The Shockers will be one of the deepest teams the Hokies have played all season. They have 10 players that average at least 14 minutes per game, including six at forward or center. Tech can't afford to see Allen or Bell in foul trouble, nor can they try to turn this game into a track meet.
That's not good for the Hokies, who would probably like to make this a transition game. Malcolm Delaney and Erick Green match-up favorably against Wichita State's guards and both have been at their best in transition. Plus, getting the ball down the floor quickly wouldn't let the Shockers get the big men set up on defense at the other end.
On defense, the Hokies may stick to zone to better defend Wichita State's big men and to help keep Allen and Bell out of foul trouble, assuming Davila is out or will be limited. If they do that, they have to continue to guard well against the three-point shot. Tech has been one of the better teams in the country in opponents' three-point percentage, but they've gotten in trouble when they've allowed opponents to get open looks like they did at home against Boston College and at Georgia Tech.
Wichita State is an above average team from behind the arc and is close to being in the top third among three-point shooting teams. The Shockers have a lot of guys who will take the three, led by David Kyles who makes over 40 percent from behind the arc (72-for-179).
Where the Hokies have to be careful if they play zone is keeping Wichita State from collecting offensive rebounds. The Shockers are one of the better rebounding teams in the country, which is no surprise given their size. And although they didn't show it in their first-round win over Nebraska, they are among the very best on the defensive glass. Their 26 percent offensive rebounds allowed is the fourth-fewest in the nation.
In addition to needing Delaney and Green to play well, I think the Hokies will need a good game from Bell. If he can create mismatches on the perimeter on offense, it could force Wichita State to play smaller than they'd like to get a quicker player on him.
Usually I say it's in Virginia Tech's favor for the game to be ugly and unwatchable. However, if the Hokies get into a rock fight with Wichita State things may not go well for them. The Shockers haven't played well against the best teams on their schedule (their best win was against Tulsa), but they're still a dangerous team because of how the match-up against a Virginia Tech team that could be even smaller and shorter on players depending on Davila's injury.
The winner of this game will face the winner of Cleveland State and College of Charleston. The Vikings and Cougars meet at 2 p.m. EDT Saturday in Cleveland on ESPNU.