Radford (21-12, 10-6 in the Big South) vs. Oregon St. (16-15, 8-10) / Gill Coliseum / 7 PM PST / No TV / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. opens post season play in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Tournament tonight. The opponent is Radford. And no, that's not an AAU team coached and sponsored by former Oregon St. great Mark Radford.
It's the Radford Highlanders, from Radford, VA. are a public school with an enrollment a little under 10,000, which makes them a little bigger than 1/3 the size of Oregon St. Radford is located in south-western Virginia, several hours from Charlottesville, and actually closer to Greensboro, NC.
The Highlanders are a member of the Big South North Division, and finished 3rd in the North, 2 games behind High Point, which is in the NIT). Coastal Carolina won the Big South South and the Conference Tournament, and is the Big South's sole NCAA Tournament participant.
Radford is in the CBI for the first time, whereas its the 4th CBI in 6 years for Oregon St., and coach Craig Robinson.
The Highlanders won 6 of 8 down the stretch, and were a 1 point overtime loss away from winning 8 of 10 to close out the regular season.
Radford lost in their second game in the Big South Tournament, falling 96-87 to UNC-Asheville, after the Highlanders had handled Presbyterian 78-73 in their first game.
Radford is led by 6'4" junior forward (that's not a typo) Javonte Green, who leads the Highlanders in scoring, with 16.9 points per game, on 55% shooting, and rebounding, averaging 8.2 per game.
The Highlanders are a very small team, with their next 3 leading scorers behind Green standing 5-11, 6-2 and 5-11. Their scoring depends on their shooting, and they do do that fairly well. Radford finished the season 31st in the country in scoring, averaging 78 points per game, and they did that because 25th in the country in field goal %, hitting .478 from the field.
Contrast that with the Beavers, who were 66th in scoring, at 75.3 points per game, though Oregon St. did shoot .485 as as team, 18th in the country.
For the Beavers, its another chance to see departing seniors Roberto Nelson, the Pac-12's leading scorer, Angus Brandt, and Devon Collier play again. And maybe the CBI is a last look at junior Eric Moreland, who may well leave for the pros as well.
Except not Collier; who will miss the game with a sprained ankle suffered in the Oregon game in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Oregon St. won the tournament in their inaugural appearance in 2009, taking 2 of 3 games from UTEP. The Beavers exited after a first round loss to Boston U. the next year, and reached the semifinals after a pair of wins 2 years ago, only to fall to Washington St.
8 of the 10 CBI games the Beavers have played have been at Gill, with 2 games in the best of 3 Championship Series in El Paso the only exceptions.
Oregon St. paid $35,000 to host the game. If they beat the Highlanders, the Beavers will pay an additional $50,000 to host a quarterfinal game next Monday against the winner of South Dakota State-Old Dominion.
The host team must pay $75,000 for the semifinal, as well as $75,000 for each contest they host in the three-game championship series. Because the 4 remaining teams are reseeded after the quarterfinal round, its unknown how many games Oregon St. might or even could host in the final rounds, should they get that far.
This week is finals week, which has always seriously hurt attendance at all manner of Oregon St. events, and next week is spring break, so the prospect of high enough attendance to make it a profitable endeavor as it was in their first, title winning appearance is mixed at best. The Beavers drew over 8,000 fans to their home game in the
Attendance hasn't approached that at any point this season, only topping half-full 4 times, for California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, 3 teams with ample ability for their fans to drive to the game, and the 4th against the then #3 team in the country. Radford is none of those.
Ticket prices vary from $10 to $35, so if the distribution averages $15, then 2,333 sold tickets would pay the $35K, though its important for those scoring at home to know 1,000 students will get in for free, and there are other expenses to pay besides just the CBI check. So attendance probably needs to be around 3,500 to break even. $0 tv dollars doesn't help either.
The quarterfinal game Monday obviously gets to be a lot harder to make profitable, especially given that many members of Beaver Nation will be committing time and money to follow the women's basketball team to Seattle and the NCAA "big dance" Tournament game on game Sunday, and hopefully another on Tuesday.
When asked about the fact that many Oregon St. fans have indicated that they disagree with the decision to participate in the CBI, Moreland said, "We haven't proven ourselves to be Indiana where they say, 'We're not playing in the CBI. We're better than that.' When you get invited to something, you've just got to take it and try to win a championship."
Indiana declined an invite, after finishing 17-15, and 7-11 in the Big Ten, which wasn't enough to attract an NIT invite.
Brandt added "I'd tell them that as a fan of ours, if they really are a fan, they'd respect our choice to play in the CBI, and they would come and support us."
There's no doubting there's plenty of appreciation and love for Nelson and Brandt especially, as well as the other good Beavers who just want to keep playing in the Orange and Black as long as they possibly can.
But its also a business decision, and for Beaver backers (who got football season ticket bills last weekend) as well as the Athletic Department, and Beaver Authentics.
Feel free to weigh in with your opinion in the comments.