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Independence Bowl: 5 things to know

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Independence Bowl: 5 things to know

Frank Beamer will coach in his final game Saturday as he leads Virginia Tech against Tulsa in the Independence Bowl. Here's what you need to know for today's game:

Camping World Independence Bowl

Virginia Tech vs. Tulsa

5:45 p.m.

Shreveport, La.

1. End of an era

The big story surrounding Virginia Tech is of course the retirement of their long-time head coach. Beamer has been at the helm in Blacksburg for 29 seasons, leading the Hokies to 10 or more wins 13 times, a bowl game in 23 of his 29 seasons and seven conference championships. Saturday will be his final game as head coach of a program he built into a national power.

2. Where it all began

Beamer has led Virginia Tech to a bowl game in 23 consecutive seasons so it is only fitting that his final game should come in the Independence Bowl, the same Bowl game that launched the bowl streak. Virginia Tech played in the Independence Bowl game in 1993, a 45-20 win over Indiana, and have played in a bowl game every year since. To celebrate, Virginia Tech will wear throwback helmets and the same jersey/pant combination they wore in the 1993 game.

RELATED: Navy's Niumatalolo and Reynolds look ahead to the Military Bowl

3. Three players suspended

The team announced Thursday that seniors Deon Clarke, Kevin Asante and Demitri Knowles have been suspended and will not play in Saturday's game. Knowles did not travel with the team to Shreveport after being late for meetings in Blacksburg, according to Mike Barber. Clarke and Asante were suspended for unspecified violations. Of the three, Clarke's absence will hurt the most as a starter. Tremaine Edmunds will start in his place.

4. A tough offense

The biggest obstacle to a win in Beamer's finale is an explosive Tulsa offense. The offense carried the Golden Hurricane to a bowl bid this season despite a weak defense. Tulsa averages over 35 points per game thanks largely to quarterback Dane Evans and receiver Keyarris Garrett. The offense did so well in fact that Texas hired away offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert and offensive line coach Matt Mattox. This game will largely be decided by what Tulsa's offense is able to do against Bud Foster's squad. Will Tulsa be as offensively dominant without Gilbert?

5. Virginia Tech heavily favored

Vegas is pretty confident in the Hokies. Virginia Tech is favored by 14 heading into this game which is the largest spread among all bowl games.

Prediction

You can't doubt Virginia Tech's motivation heading into this game. When a big name program gets invited to a bowl game like the Independence Bowl against a non-power opponent, it's not unusual to see the power program mail it in. With this being Beamer's final game, that's not going to happen. Does that mean Virginia Tech will win by 14? Not necessarily. That's a really big spread for a team that has not looked dominant this season. Virginia Tech's offense has been inconsistent and the defense relatively weak, at least by Foster's lofty standards. Looking at their last five games, however, Virginia Tech is hitting its stride. They won three of those games with both of their losses coming in overtime. You also have to wonder how Tulsa's offense will look without their offensive coordinator.

A motivated Virginia Tech team was able to force overtime against Coastal champion North Carolina, they should be able to beat Tulsa especially with questions about the Golden Hurricane's offense.

Virginia Tech 31 - Tulsa 24

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

After testing the NBA Draft waters, Georgetown center Jessie Govan decided to return to the Hoyas for his senior season.

Govan announced his intention to return on Instagram a week before the final commitment deadline.

Returning to the Hoyas is definitely a boost to the program that will be in their second year under head coach Patrick Ewing.  At 6-10, Govan was the team’s leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and rebounder (10.0 rpg) averaging a double-double last season.

Paired alongside power forward Marcus Derrickson, the Hoyas were nearly unstoppable in the paint. Derrickson though decided to forgo his senior year and signed with an agent after the season.

Had Govan decided to leave that would have meant over 56 percent of the team’s scoring and rebounding would have departed (to graduation or professional pursuits) in a handful of months. Not the best outlook for a 15-win team that went 5-13 in the Big East.

Instead Ewing gets back his leading scorer that many believe he can mold as a young protégée. While in the draft process without an agent Govan had workouts with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Both are valuable experiences that he will bring to a relatively young Georgetown squad.

Having Govan for one more year will bridge Ewing’s second season to transfer big-man, Omer Yurtseven to his first year of eligibility in 2019. They were set up to having a walk-on and two sophomores being the only returning Hoyas over 6-6 for the upcoming season.

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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USA TODAY Sports

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.