NCAA basketball tournament preview: Virginia Tech

#87 R.P.I. Saint Louis vs. #26 R.P.I. Virginia Tech: 

Virginia Tech men’s basketball takes to the court for the third NC2A time in a row and since half past when -or since half past never ever- have we ever been able to say, that?!?

The Hokies now face the 22 up and 13 down (6th, 10-8) in the Atlantic Ten Conference Saint Louis Billikens for the right to advance to the Round-of-32. In a game that presents some squirrely looking match-ups, each; way. Nonetheless, you wanna know who is gonna win and by how much, right? Read on, to find… out!

Saint Louis Head Coach: Travis Shane Ford: age=49, 397–306 (.565)* overall, 52–49 (.515) at St.Louis.
$1,000,000.oo (with $760,000 for staffing $3.5 million for housing, and $7.2 million still gar-ron-teeed from OK.State!)

pretty decent coach 1o1… (with an A+++, lawyer)!

Baller Ford played the majority of his Pt.Guard collegiate career at the University of Kentucky, helping the Wildcats to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of his three seasons. He was a junior on the 1993 Wildcat team that advanced to the NCAA Final Four. Ford transferred to Kentucky after one season (1989-90) at the University of Missouri. At Missouri, he was named to the Big Eight Conference All-Freshman team. At Kentucky after playing sparingly his sophomore year, Ford was a starter during his junior and senior years and set school records in single-game assists (15), single-season three-point field goals (1o1) and consecutive free throws made (5o). Baller Ford went: 5′9″ and 165 salty looking lbs., with 13.6 ppg and virtually 6 apg which is not bad bluegrass work. Neither was being named 3-time All-S.e.c. Academic Team. Nor was being named: All-S.e.c., All-NCAA Regional, or the S.e.c. Tournament M.V.P.! Baller Ford also hangs an extremely rarefied Gold Medal from the so-called 1993: Summer Universiade. Per the winning Buffalo National team. Whatever that means…

After an unsuccessful attempt at an NBA career, Thespian Ford landed the role of Danny O’Grady in the 1997 movie The 6th Man, starring Marlon Wayans and Kadeem Hardison.

After this Coach Ford took up his medium whistle at Campbellsville University. Ford accepted the position, and in 1999 led the Tigers to a 28–3 record, earning Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year honors.

Then Coach Ford began his ascent, with tour stops at: Eastern Kentucky, UMass, and eventually Oklahoma State.

Coach Ford has -curiously enough- only won three (3) Conference Championships along the 22-year career way. However, Coach Ford has made the post-season eleven (11) times. Being eliminated in the first-round 64% of the time. And less one NIT runner-up sprint, being eliminated in the second-round every other time.

Coach Ford does enjoy the reputation for being something of a program building sharp. Though he has negative (<.5oo) marks for three of the five schools he’s coached. And is a very unusual 17 games under .5oo for it in careerist conference play. Still yet, he left every school not named OK.State with a better recrod than that with which he entry-year began. So the program builder tag is legit; and the pressure cooker or thicker competition part is on less firm ground vis-à-vis. Coach Ford has a stamp for being a slower tempo/more defensive S.Greenberg if you will; and for being a total portal Ace, as the NCAA Transfer lifeline goes, wherever he has been.

Ford, is a native of Madisonville, Kentucky. He and his wife, Heather, have three children: Brooks, Kyleigh, and Shane. Ford earned a bachelor’s degree in communications at the University of Kentucky in 1994.

* Ford has nine (9) vacated wins due to an ineligible Campbellsville player.

Word of the Day: Billiken:

(noun) a bogus, deity

An early SLU football coach, John R. Bender is said to have been the inspiration for the nickname “Billikens,” which is still used by the school’s athletic teams. During the 1911 season, according to one version of the story, local sportswriters commented that Bender bore an uncanny resemblance to a charm doll called a Billiken, which was a national fad at the time. His squad became known as “Bender’s Billikens” and the name stuck. Doll inventor: Florence Pretz of Kansas City, Missouri …is said to have seen the mysterious doll/figure in a dream.

Saint Louis at a glance:

  • 5th on the offensive glass (13.8 o-rpg)!!!
  • 14th most FTA’s in D-1 (∑=793 FTA’s)!
  • 16th best in Rebounding Margin (+6.7 rpg)!
  • 22nd in scoring D (63.7 ppg allowed).
  • 39th in 3-point defense (30.4% allowed).
  • 42nd in FG percentage D (40.9% allowed).
  • 52nd in total swats (∑=142 b’s).
  • 84th in swipes (7.1 spg).
  • 3o4th in scoring O (67.1 ppg).
  • 328th in 3-point shooting (30.8%).
  • 35oth (outta 351 D-1 teams) in FT-shooting (59.8%)!!!
  • (one injury listed… Coach God bless!)

St.Louis Returning Starters=3

Saint Louis Strengths:

  • Recruiting is up. Two really good classes by A-10 standards (no.78 last year) will meet you in Saint Louis.
  • 6′6″, 220 lb. former Michigan State star and Lindy’s 2nd-team all-A-10 Javon Bess is well said to be the best Billiken the Billikens gots. His team-leading 15.3 ppg and second-best 6.7 rpg  and mutually silver medal with 1.6 spg would all seem to conspire “echo” that. Although 39% overall and 32% when dialing-long-distance ain’t exactly Reggie Miller territory. Javon is a Spartan transfer who shoulda turned west in East Lancing as he never quite meshed in Magic Johnson’s backyard. Bess is a rarefied throwback mid-range inside the arc type baller who hits the boards and a lotta elbow J’s or penetrating type runners. 91st according to ESPN and is said to have a soft touch in and around the basket. Whispers (claim) he has added 3-point range to his game is ready to (finally) be the breakout scorer everyone thought he’d collegiality be. Now mix in a couple of dimes (1.9 agp) and far and away the team lead at a merely solid 79% from the charity stripe and you have a very all-around alms or donatory game on your hands. Bess has started 68 straight games, so durable he be. He is also an  A-10 All-Defensive team honoree. So he is prolly some measure of a Pro’, though the feel seems to fit the duty-free or export tariff look more so here to me. And oh yes, Bess loves contact the best… as he led the A-10 in free throws made (160) and free throws attempted (211) last year. (pretty close to the same right now). This after being the Ohio Player of the Year 2014 and he nabbed a state title ring in 2012.
  • Lindy’s pre-season 2018-2019 A-10 Player of the Year and second season Jordan Goodwin was part of coach Ford’s initial threeway of Very Highly Touted recruits here. The 6′3″, 215 lb. Goodwin has a fair to middling chance to be some kinda All-A-10 something or another before he is done. ESPN ranks Goodwin 55th nationally: the highest A-10 recruit -for the entire conference mind you- in the class of 2o17. He’ll immediately contribute to what’ll be a dangerous SLU backcourt this year and he was a AAA Illinois state-champion in hoops and a Te in football with multiple D-1 offers for such. As this is a tough, gridiron hardened, S/F or off-G who prolly brings more lead-G traits; albeit from a suburban environment. Though he rebounds nearly Westbrook well to go with Pt.G type numbers as assists go. In point of fact, if/when his shooting comes around you have to wonder how long his all-around game will remain. And he just penultimate lead St.Louis in offensive rebounding with 7.3 rpg on the year and right at 160 o-rebounds in two years time! That and 10.7 ppg with 3.5 spg and the team lead at 1.9 spg is pretty spiffy. Even if his mercurial 51% on FTA’s, is; not.

    (not) from: Frenchlick!
  • Hasahn French (pic) is a 6′7″, 235 lb., Soph., Massachusetts native who brings size and finesse to the Billikens post. In addition to bringing 15 more really shoulder-thick filled in lbs. since we saw him last. Coach Ford scooped this talented newcomer right off UMass’ front porch. A 3 star according to Rivals, French should immediately augment a SLU frontcourt that was poor on the boards last season (318th in offensive rebound %). In point of fact, Lindy’s dared to list French the top rebounder (already) in the A-10. French -who looks like he’s a late Greg Oden 20’s- was the 90th ranked baller according to ESPN and he’s said to be closer to a muscular 235 lbs. already. Another very street-wise baller; who brings toughs, physicality, rebounding, defense, shot-blocking, and more toughs to the post be that as a 3 or as a smaller 4 ultimately. Leading the way in board-work at 8.4 sweaty rpg says so. Though his positively brickly or <Shaq-Fu FT-shooting (34%) says foul #22 and his 9.3 ppg late. 1.8 bpg, 1.0 spg on very limited range are part of his paint hard-trying game to boot.
  • Grad-transfer Tramaine Isabell Jr. is a 6′1″, 180 lb. final year Boyz n da Hood L.Fishburne hard trying lookalike. Seriously, doubt I’d card this guy if he rolled a 6-pack, up. Tho’ he does roll a very improved looking and second-best 13.8 ppg for St.Louis. Now mix in 4.1 boards and the team pacing 3.8 dimes dropped (apg) and you suddenly have a box score kinda guy on your hands. Isabell does lack true shooting range (at 41% overall and 32% from range). Though this former Drexel and Missouri baller does not lack swagg. As he only averaged 21 ppg and 7.1 rpg last year to lead the Colonial Conference and then declared for the N.b.a. less hiring an agent. So his return is perfectly legal or 5×5 (five by five).

Saint Louis Weaknesses:

  • The program is coming off of a Title IV 2018 investigation. And that does not look 20-anything, good. Nor did the resultant three dismissals for: “sexual assault” or the one suspension per the same. God help!
  • Gone are starters G, Davel Roby, and Swing Jalen Johnson and likewise gonzo are their 25 ppg and 6 rpg to boot.
  • Gone as well (left-foot fracture | may St.Sebastian bless) is Elliott Welmer, Elli’ is was a 6′9″, 220 lb. sophomoric back-up P/F who would have given St.Louis some much-needed frontcourt depth/relief. 8 ppg and 5 boards off the pine two years ago says so, as this is poor Welmer’s second straight injury washout season in a row. May the KayCee NC2A H.Q. suits be kind here, as this is Elli’s third foot-blow-out injury in a stunning/hurtful/hobbled four years of collegiate ball so far. An insalubrious leg oriented tough thing somedays… this hardwood game.
  • FT-shooting or an offensive juggernaut St.Louis, just; ain’t.

Billikens Bench: (depth=2)

6′4″, 210 lb. Sr. year Dion Wiley (4.8 ppg on 30% deep) is a Maryland grad’-transfer who put up very similar numbers over in College Park as a Terripan career back-up off-G. Though he was the no.52 recruit four years ago outta high school from And he does enjoy a Maryland state championship bling for his hardwood troubles.

Back-up One (Pt.G.) Fred Thatch Jr. is a 6′3″, 210 lb. nugget or rookie year voter who gets you 4.4 ppg with a reasonable 2.7 rpg, a swipe and yet only drops 36% from the floor and 27% from behind the arc. Fred was the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year in high school last season. Where he averaged 25 points per game and set scholastic records for assists (first >2,000), rebounds and steals alike. So maybe we should wait and ask 2022 how Thatch’s weave, tastes?

As offensive output or outburst or frontcourt size does not live here
(in the Billikens substitute nest).

Virginia Tech men's hoops advances how far in the 2019 D-1 NC2A Championship Tourney?

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Illationconclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of Bilikens who could doll up @Tech=2.

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… that both teams are right, exactly and entirely where they September 2018 A.D. wanted to March 2019 A.D., be!

Nobody is home alone or spring broke as these Billikens (2,082) and these Hokies (2,674) have coach Ro.Frost’s “promises to keep and many miles to go before…” well, before someone sleeps the others season come ~1 AM East-Coast time Saturday morning.

Thingy is… Saint Louis is now ranked 87th in RPI.  (and yet St.Louis was ranked 118th in RPI pre-their underdog A-10 Conference Championship Tourney run… and PROPS on that insert (___) here, check).


Virginia Tech is .833 as a Swiss or neutral court team whereas St.Louis is .667 when neither home or away.

approx. 10 pm kickoff!

Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame is calling for a 13 point Hokie VicTory per each team having faced Florida State in round-robin common.

The annualized year-to-date vitals say that… V.Tech is +6% in shooting percentage margin (all on O), V.Tech is +7% in 3-point percentage margin (mostly on O, SLU better on D), and yet St.Louis is up +4 boards in rebounding margin for the duration.

The most recent 5-game metrics say that… V.Tech is now up +3% in shooting percentage margin (per a slight VT dip on O and a slight SLU betterment on D), V.Tech is now up +8% in 3-point percentage margin (with VT better on O and D with SLU less on D) and yet St.Louis is now up a noticeable +10 carroms in rebounding margin in the last fortnight of play.

V.Tech is up a truly unheard of +16% at the charity stripe for the year!

  • Saint Louis=11 NCAA’s, V.P.I./Virginia Tech=10 NCAA’s.
  • 1 Billiken nets ≥35% from deep.
  • 4 Billikens ball ≥30 mins. per game. And you have to wonder out loud just how much they have after 160 minutes of life-n-death single-elimination ball in <100 hours time.
  • St.Louis has only allowed ∑=152 points in the last three games. The Billikens stormed back from a 15 point first-half deficit in the title game to edge St. Bonaventure 55-53.
  • St.Louis has five guys averaging >1.1 spg. Not see five guys north of 1.0 spg all year.
  • i.e. SLU ain’t the easy draw soft-touch everyone else is snowing you in July, on.
  • The Hokies (24-8) are 17-3 with J.Rob’ and 7-5 sans “5”.
  • Williams, a former Texas A&M assistant, is 98-68 in five seasons with the Hokies.

the call

Vegas is calling for a 10 point Hokie VicTory in this opening NCAA round-of-64 contest.

Although as said up above, the Billikens present some squirrely match-ups. Their rotation is not south of 6′3″ in height— and yet it is not north of 6′9″ in height, either. So St.Louis can switch in-and-out and (generally) not match-up as poorly as most. In extra particular vs. a likewise vertically challenged Hurrying Hokie Hoops squad. The Billikens can clip your wings on defense and they can soar on the glass. Two -effort based- metrics that should never ever go cold as defensive (and rebounding teams) travel (i.e. sojourn) better than any other flavor of hoops.

Whereas finesse and/or shooting style teams may find the new beds (or rings/rims) too hard or too soft. The new bed (or building) too hot or too cold. So to speak…

And to me seeing how V.Tech really takes to San Jose (or not); tells me how well V.Tech will take to beating Mississippi State (or not); in the round-of-32. Though there I go again… putting the cart in front of the horse. As

The Hokies seem like they should win here. Granted.

In particular, if Buzzketball is having a good hair day from downtown and “knows the way to San Jose”.

If that is the case I would not die of shock if Virginia Tech covered the spread.

Nevertheless, several things -finally- sank in while pondering just how many 3’s we might just sink during the opining of this preview…

Firstly, everyone had Saint Louis ranked first or second that Eye and my preview magazines could see. Or in other words… don’t let the Billikens regular season mark fool yah. St.Louis was/is a better team than they showed, and the word: “underachieving” truly rings true for this squad here.

Second, St.Louis gave Buzzketball a rather unseemingly looking L just two years back. In a game, we seemed to be realistically favored to win. Though got backcourt handcuffed in. i.e. could it be that these Billikens are a boxing metaphor or a: “styles make fights” kinda team? What if the SLU style of play is all ‘rong for dear ole V.P.I.?

Finally, St.Louis is really good at the very two things that should never ever go Touring cold. Namely, defending and rebounding. They are at least as good on defense as we are and they are even better on the glass.

Can the Billikens muddy this game up? Just enough that they can keep it close enough to win fugly, late.

Could try to mix “5” back into a different O than the one he ran muck things up?

As initially I really liked Virginia Tech here, though do recall the two things I warned about catching… a big ole burly, bruising confusing type of credible Penn.State club. Or a hard grinding, lower/slower tempo club that likes getting down-n-dirty and scuffling their way to a W. St.Louis is surely that secondary category of an ill-matched-(up) team.

Eye favor V.Tech, Eye am picking V.Tech… only thing is that I favor Buzz and Co. here by less than everyone else does— possibly a good deal less at that. Tho’ I do favor Buzzketball on O… check it out…

The Billikens average just 102.6 points per 100 possessions. Saint Louis allows only 96.3 points per 100 possessions. However, the SLU O unit is going to be tested by the Hokies’ high-flying offense which averages 118.4 points per 100 possessions, and with a suffocating defense which concedes only 94.0 points per 100 possessions.

Still yet, if you are gonna beat VeeTee in San Jose you’d better get Virginia Tech out quick. As you do not wanna see a finessèé buncha shooters take to a given foreign gym and spark that nylon net up right on up.

Tickle the twine here early on and that itch may go irrational on you!

Accordingly, I see this as one-in-done or two-for-one.

Take thy pick…

(69confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=71, Saint Louis=63