- Here’s a look at the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball NIT game with Virginia Tech. The Bearcats and Hokies play Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena.
Though they had to wait for all of the NCAA Selection Sunday shows to end to discover their fate, the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team shall ride again.
The Bearcats are a No. 4 seed hosting Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9 p.m. Wednesday night. Tickets at reasonable prices went on sale Monday morning. It’s UC’s 45th postseason appearance and their first in the NIT since 2010. The Bearcats and Hokies were conference mates in the old Metro and last played during the first two seasons of the Bob Huggins era. UC last defeated Virginia Tech Jan. 19, 1991, at home 77-61. That UC team also made an NIT appearance then followed up in 1991-92 with an NCAA Final Four date.
More:Cincinnati Bearcats will face Virginia Tech Hokies in NIT first round on Wednesday
As for local ties, former UC Athletic Director Whit Babcock holds the same job at Virginia Tech and UC’s Landers Nolley II spent his first two seasons with the Hokies. As a redshirt freshman, he was their leading scorer at 15.5 points per game.
Virginia Tech coach Mike Young used to be at Wofford in the Southern Conference where he held a 10-8 advantage over UC coach Wes Miller when he was at UNC-Greensboro.
UC vs. Temple preview
Tip: 9 p.m., Wednesday, March 15, Fifth Third Arena (12,012)
Series info: Virginia Tech leads 18-12
Virginia Tech Hokies scouting report
Virginia Tech 19-14 (8-12 ACC)
Coach: Mike Young (73-50, fourth season)
Offense: 74.2 ppg
Defense: 69.8 ppg
(Position, Height, Stats)
Justyn Mutts (F, 6’7″, 13.2 ppg)
Grant Basile (F, 6’9″, 16.4 ppg)
Sean Pedulla (G, 6′ 1″, 15.2 ppg)
Hunter Cattoor (G. 6’3″, 10.2 ppg)
M.J. Collins (G, 6’4″, 4.2 ppg)
Cincinnati Bearcats scouting report
Cincinnati (21-12, 11-7 AAC)
Coach: Wes Miller (39-27, second season)
Offense: 77.2 ppg
Defense: 69.2 ppg
(Position, Height, Stats)
Landers Nolley II, (G/F, 6’7″, 16.6 ppg)
David DeJulius (G, 6′, 14.5 ppg)
Viktor Lakhin (F, 6’11”, 11.6 ppg)
Mika Adams-Woods (G, 6’3″, 9.3 ppg)
Ody Oguama (F, 6’9″, 5.2 ppg)
Players to watch
Virginia Tech’s Basile is a grad student transfer from Wright State where he was a two-time second-team Horizon League player. Basile had a high of 33 points at Notre Dame Feb. 11 and a high of 10 rebounds at Syracuse Jan. 11.
Coach Wes Miller has often said the Bearcats go as David DeJulius goes. After a career-high 30 points on Senior Day March 5, DeJulius struggled with 2-of-10 shooting against Temple in the AAC tournament, but the Bearcats didn’t need him in a 30-point win. The following day he was 1-of-10 against Houston in the semifinal where the entire team struggled.
Keys to the game
The return of blockin’ Lakhin
A day after tying an AAC tournament record with seven blocks, UC’s redshirt sophomore Viktor Lakhin was held to 3 points on four shots with 1 block versus Houston’s bigs. Like UC, Virginia Tech struggles when big man, Basile, is in foul trouble. The one who can stay effective in the game the longest could advance his team. UC fell woefully short in points in the paint, 38-12 against top-seed Houston.
Bring it off the bench
Dan Skillings Jr. had a career-high 20 versus Temple last Friday and displays moves that pro scouts have noticed. Jeremiah Davenport was just 2-of-10 shooting in two days in Fort Worth. One or both of them need to click for the Bearcats to survive and advance.
NCAA NET: Cincinnati is No. 70, Virginia Tech No. 77
KenPom.com: Cincinnati is No. 54, Virginia Tech No. 81