After November’s Paradise Jam romp, Sunday’s tussle with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg offers Andy Kennedy and the Basketbears an opportunity to build their non-conference resume. Win, and gain an ace in the hole come March. Lose, and the early season going means virtually nil.
Virginia Tech, for its part, has looked spunky out of the gate. The Hokies picked up a pair of back-to-back wins over Big Ten opponents last month, a 66-53 drubbing of Nebraska and a 73-70 barn-burner over Michigan in Ann Arbor. Tech’s lone loss on the year came at the hands of Texas A&M, last year’s SEC Tournament champ.
As we discussed on this week’s podcast, an early season win over an ACC team like Virginia Tech would provide AK and company with a nifty resume boost when talk of the tournament bubble comes to bear. The Rebs missed out on just such an opportunity last season, and for that reason they failed to receive invitations to the Big Dance and the NIT.
The 2016 Basketbears are still in search of an identity, but Sebastian Saiz has quickly emerged as the team’s lightning rod and scoring and rebounding leader. The offense necessarily must run through the experienced Spaniard, which will open up the perimeter for guys like Terence Davis, Deandre Burnett, Cullen Neal and the ever mystifying Rasheed Brooks to find some rhythm.
How to watch:
Where: Blacksburg, Virginia
When: 11 a.m. CT
Online Streaming: WatchESPN