A little over a month ago the Cavaliers were in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season. Having just lost heartbreakers to UNC and Duke they were looking to rebound in Chestnut Hill against Boston College. Unfortunately, it was not to be as they dropped a third straight close game to the Eagles 67-70. The Hoos were down by 13 at a point in the game but rallied back to even take the lead in the second half but faltered down the stretch and were not able to put the game away. This Saturday, with the team riding high on an impressive two game winning streak, the Hoos look to take revenge on the Eagles in Charlottesville.
This weekend the Eagles will rely on the exact same formula that beat the Cavaliers in January: get the Cavaliers in foul trouble, force deep shots, and rely on Trapani and Jackson. Senior forward Joe Trapani had a game high 18 points and six rebounds in the BC victory. Trapani has been consistent all year for the Eagles averaging nearly 15 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
The yin to Trapani's yang for BC is junior guard Reggie Jackson. Jackson is in prime position to be a 1st team All-ACC player with a scoring average just over 18 and more than 4 assists per game. Much like the rest of the season, Jackson was able to come away with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Limiting those two and keeping an eye on forward Corey Raji will be one of the main keys to victory for the Cavaliers.
To come out on top Saturday it looks like the Cavaliers will have to use the same system that has lead them to victory in the last two games. Getting the ball into the hands of Mustapha Farrakhan and Joe Harris on the perimeter with open looks should be the main focus. Should the Hoos be able to knock down those shots like they have in the recent past, the lane will open up and allow Sene and Harrell to hopefully establish a presence and maybe, just maybe let Jontel penetrate to the basket off the dribble.
The other key factor will be hitting free throws the entire game. Free throws, as we all know, have been a thorn in the side of the Cavaliers this year and if they are going to win games down the stretch free throws are going to have to be made. In the previous game with Boston College the Hoos shot 66.7% from the charity stripe. While it's not terrible, hitting them down the stretch of a game is the difference between a win and a loss. (And don't even get me started about the Miami game!)
I think the Hoos should be able to pull off a victory this weekend in Charlottesville. It seems this team is really starting to hit its stride (and its shots) at the right time and could pull it off against the Eagles. The last game was close and this team is significantly better than it was a month ago. My final prediction: Hoos 62 - Eagles 58.
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