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Who: Virginia Tech Hokies (4-4, 1-2 home) vs Penn State Nittany Lions (7-2, 0-1 road)

When: Sunday, December 12 @ 1:00 p.m.

TV: Comcast Sportsnet

Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Virginia

The Opponent: The Hokies host their second Big Ten team in the Cassell this season as 7-2 Penn State comes to Blacksburg on a mini two-game win streak. Their 7-2 record is a tad misleading, as all seven of the victories have come against teams with RPI's higher than 122. The two losses were by a combined 36 points to Ole Miss and Maryland. Plus, their last two wins over Duquesne and Mount St. Mary's were each by four points.

The story with Penn State is guard Talor Battle (6-0, 170 lbs). The senior lit Tech up last year in State College, scoring 32 points before missing a tough layup that would've tied the game as time expired. Battle made five three-pointers in the game and was 12-of-26 from the field. This year, Battle again leads the Nittany Lions with 19.4 points per game. He's scored in double digits in all but one game this year, including 21 of the team's 39 in the 62-39 loss to Maryland.

Aside from Battle, Penn State really only has one other offensive threat. Forward Jeff Brooks (6-8, 216 lbs) averages 14.6 points per game and has scored in double digits in all but one game. That one game though, was a nine-point performance against a bigger, more physical Jordan Williams of Maryland. Brooks was dominated by Jeff Allen last year, scoring just two points in 22 minutes of play.

Othat than Battle and Brooks, the Nittany Lions don't have another player that averages more than nine points per game. Forward David Jackson (6-7, 210 lbs) averages nine points a game, but was injured against Duquesne and didn't play against Mount St. Mary's Tuesday.

Center Andrew Jones (6-10, 245 lbs) is the fourth senior to start for a rather experienced Penn State team. Jones is second on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game. Guard Tim Frazier (6-1, 160) is just a sophomore and averages four points per game.

My Thoughts: Let's face it. Last week was pathetic for the Hokie Hoops team. A squad once thought to be top-25 caliber and an NCAA Tournament guarantee is now 4-4 and not even included in projections that came out this week. Losing at home to your in-state rival in your conference opener is inexcusable. That, plus it's just another excuse for the NCAA Committee come March.

Now with a week off, this team has a chance to go in two separate directions. Losing at home to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten will essentially eliminate all NCAA Tournament chances. It's a tough thing to say in mid-December, but losing three home games, two of which should have been wins does not bode well for the upcoming ACC season. A win on Sunday could give this squad a boost into another must-win game in the Bahamas against Mississippi State on Saturday.

Right now, I am still at a loss for what the Hokies are trying to do on offense. Our game plan currently consists of four guys running around the three-point line looking for shots or passes into Jeff Allen on the post. That works in middle school, but not in Division I college basketball. A little flow and simple plays could get this offense, which has failed to score 60 points in five of eight games, into a much needed groove.

I'm interested to see how this team comes out on Sunday. The crowd will hopefully be there to support the team, but will there be quality play to support?