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|Tech Sports News|
Hokie Women Prepare for BE Tourney and the NCAA's
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
The Virginia Tech women's basketball team took care of business this week, dispatching WVU at home last Saturday 76-64, and then wrapping up the regular season with a win over St. John's on the road, 69-53. That leaves the Hokies at 19-8 overall, 10-6 in the Big East.
The 10-6 record earns a fifth-place tie with Notre Dame, but the Hokies will get the fifth seed in the Big East Tournament, due to a 53-50 win over the Irish on February 9th. That gets the Hokies a rematch with 12-seeded WVU in the first round.
Of the 14 teams in the Big East, only 12 go to the tournament (just like the men), and the top four teams get first-round byes. So the Hokies represent the highest seed without a bye, and they are playing the lowest seed in WVU.
Tech beat WVU in both matchups this season, 55-48 in Morgantown in January and this past week at VT. WVU has the #10 scorer in the league in Kate Bulger (15.8 ppg) -- yes, she's former WVU QB Marc Bulger's sister -- and the league-leader in assists in Yoland Paige (7.1 apg).
But the 'Eers don't match up well with the Hokies down inside, where Tech's Ieva Kublina and Erin Gibson have dominated them.
If the Hokies beat the Mountaineers -- the game is scheduled for noon Saturday and is not televised -- they'll draw #4 seed Boston College in the second round. BC receives a bye in the first round and hammered Tech 65-47 in their only meeting this year, Feb. 16th in Boston.
Looking down the road, Tech's prospects for making the NCAA Tournament look very, very good. Despite last week's opponents having poor RPI ratings, the Hokies' RPI rating held steady during the week at 26th (as of 3/7/03).
The respected web site womenscollegehoops.com lists VT as one of six "bubble teams" for the NCAA in a home page poll. But with a #26 RPI rating, it's hard to imagine Tech being excluded from the tournament. Last year, the top 34 teams in the RPI and 42 of the top 44 made the tournament. womenscollegehoops.com also lists the Hokies as having a 70% chance to make the tournament as an at-large entry.
Meanwhile, on the Men's Side...
Faced with a chance to win their way into the Big East Tournament, the Hokie men failed last Saturday, losing to Miami at home, 79-71. Tech overcame deficits of 9, 10, and 10 points to tie the game each time, but failed to lead at any point and faltered down the stretch.
The win for Miami represents just their second road win of the season, and their only Big East road win. The Hokies came out tight, started slow, and were never able to take over the game.
The Hokies can still make the Big East Tournament, but their chances are slim. First of all, they must win at WVU, and the Hokies are just 1-9 on the road this year. WVU is 8-5 at home, but just 2-5 at home against Big East teams.
Secondly, Miami must lose to St. John's at home. The Canes are 9-4 at home overall (3-4 Big East), and St. John's is 6-5 on the road (3-3 Big East).
If Tech loses or Miami wins, the Hokies are out of the Big East Tournament. Tech's game at WVU is at 2 pm (no TV) and the Miami/St. John's game is at 9 pm (ESPN).
If the Hokies don't make the Big East Tournament, then the season will be over, and speculation about Coach Ricky Stokes' status will crank up to a feverish pitch. After supporting Stokes last October and saying, "Ricky Stokes is going to coach the basketball team this year [2002-03] and next year [2003-04], and I'm hopeful Ricky Stokes is coaching the basketball team a lot of years beyond that," (Roanoke Times, 10/17/02), Tech AD Jim Weaver has backed off in recent public comments, making statements such as, "I've already said publicly that we're going to honor our contract with Ricky." (Hokie Hotline, 1/27/03).
"Honoring his contract" is different than saying Stokes will be kept on as coach. Weaver's most recent public comment was, "I'm not going to evaluate the program during the season. That's not right. It's not fair to kids, it's not fair to coaches, it's not fair to fans." (Roanoke Times, 3/5/03 -- in that story, Weaver refused to say if a trip to the Big East tournament would enable Stokes to keep his job.)TechSideline.com Sponsor Spotlight: Quote Advantage
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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As an additional bonus, all subscribers will receive a 10% discount on all purchases made at Techlocker.com, our online store providing Hokie-related apparel and gift items. If that's not enough, you should know that your subscription will help support your favorite website, TechSideline.com.
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