Sure it's tough to forecast results for the NCAA tournament, but it might be even more difficult to predict the NIT.
Motivation and handling emotions are the big intangibles at work in the National Invitation Tournament.
How does a team like Quinnipiac handle losing by two points in their conference championship game to miss the NCAA tournament?
How will Virginia Tech recover from once again being left out of the field of 65 after winning a school record 23 games during the regular season?
We’ll know the answers shortly after the 7 PM tip Wednesday in Blacksburg.
In the meantime, the tangible paper matchup appears to tilt in favor of the Hokies.
The Bobcats are not a particularly big team, but they rebound extremely well and put a major emphasis on pounding the offensive glass.
The biggest post threat and perhaps Quinnipiac’s best player is 6’7” forward Justin Rutty.
Rutty averaged 15.1 ppg and 11 rebounds per contest this season. He’s a skilled and passionate big man who can shoot the ball decently, and at 240 pounds, he’ll provide a tough defensive assignment for Tech forward Jeff Allen.
Allen has been playing terrific basketball in the final weeks of the season however, and is even playing well with fouls. Head coach Seth Greenberg has been managing his playing time with fouls expertly, and Allen finally seems to understand how to stay on the floor.
Senior guard James Fieldene (17.1 ppg, 6 rpg) is the leading scorer for the Bobcats and a solid rebounder for a guard.
That will create another fun matchup with the ACC’s leading scorer Malcolm Delaney.
Delaney (20.4 ppg) will have to bounce back from what was undeniably the worst game of his Tech career against Miami in the ACC Tournament.
Delaney played all 40 minutes but was just 3-15 shooting from the field and 0-8 from three-point range en route to scoring just seven points.
There are certainly some good individual battles to watch in this one, but Tech comes out on top in each of them.
The Hokies are the far more athletic team, and while Quinnipiac can hang with good teams, if the Hokies are even remotely motivated they should be able to win at home where they are 14-1 this season.
Look for a close one early, but ultimately Tech’s depth should prove to be a bit too much for the Bobcats.
The winner will face UConn in the second round of the NIT. The date and time will be set once the matchup is decided.