Who: Virginia Tech Hokies (7-4, 2-2 home) vs USC Upstate Spartans (2-9, 0-5 away)
When: Thursday, December 30 @ 2:00 p.m.
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
The Opponent: The Hokies close out 2010 with their first ever meeting with the Spartans of USC Upstate from the Atlantic Sun. Upstate is in its final year of transition from Division II to Division I of NCAA and therefore is ineligible for postseason play despite playing a full A-Sun schedule. The Spartans and Hokies have two common opponents in Virginia and Campbell. Upstate was tied with UVA with 14 minutes to go before falling by 20 to the Cavaliers, 75-54. The Spartans lost to Campbell 67-60.
Head coach Eddie Payne has tailored his squad to be ready for postseason play next year as the Spartans roster consists of six freshman, a sophomore, two juniors and just two seniors. Here’s a look at the Spartans projected starting lineup for Thursday’s matinee:
As you can tell, the Spartans are a terrible offensive team. Upstate averages just 57.7 points per game on 35.2% shooting. Those stats rank 336th and 344th, respectively, in Division I out of 345 teams. The squad has failed to reach 62 points in nine of their 11 games, including scoring just 35 and 41 points at Michigan and South Carolina.
Upstate has used seven different lineups this year, with multiple players being plugged in to try and make things work offensively. Nine players average at least 14 minutes per game, but only freshman Torrey Craig averages in double figures with 11.6 points per contest. Craig takes the most shots for the Spartans, but shoots just 36 percent from the field.
Sophomore guard Tony Dukes (6-2, 175) has been in and out of the starting lineup for the Spartans, averaging 7.2 points per game. Despite not starting the last game against Auburn, Dukes nailed four three-pointers and tallied 13 points. Reserve forward Babatunde Olumuyiwa (6-7, 230) averages 7.1 points, but the most impressive stat is his 3.18 blocks per game average, good enough for eighth in the nation.
As you can probably tell, the Hokies should have no problem with the overmatched Spartans. Tech should control the tempo as long as they stay out of foul trouble. Upstate is currently 285th in the RPI, which will be a big blow to Tech’s current 34th-ranked RPI and 15th-ranked strength of schedule. Live audio and video of Thursday’s contest can be found via Hokies All-Access on hokiesports.com.