What: Virginia Cavaliers (8-3) vs. Norfolk State Spartans (8-4)
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Place: John Paul Jones Arena
Radio: Virginia Sports Radio Network
Last Meeting: UVA 67-56 (NIT First Round)
Odds: Vegas: UVA -18.5; KenPom: UVA 72-56 (95%)
Virginia is back at John Paul Jones Arena tonight to take on the in-state Norfolk State Spartans out of the MEAC.
Yes, there are some unsettling things about this game. The Hoos are on just one day of rest after their Saturday win over Northern Iowa. It was just about a year ago today when UVA dropped a devastating game against ODU, the team's second time in action after the exam break. And Virginia's had issues with the Spartans in the past. Last year in the NIT, UVA clung to a three-point lead with 5 minutes to play before pulling away. And the 2010-2011 team required a buzzer-beater tip-in from Assane Sene to escape with a one-point win at home.
But don't worry everyone, this is still an in-state team out of the MEAC that the Hoos should handle. The Spartans are ranked #208 by KenPom, about the same as the #203 team that visited last season, but they're a different team than last season. After firing their prior coach, they went from poor on offense but solid on defense to respectable on offense but lousy at defense (#276 in adj. efficiency). Of NSU's 8 wins, 3 were against teams not in D-1, and 3 were against teams ranked worse than 250 by KenPom (a road overtime win over BU is their most impressive).
UVA just needs to score against that lousy defense and handle NSU's Pendarvis Williams. Williams was the MEAC's Player of the Year last season and has picked up right where he left off, posting a scary-good offensive rating of 132.6 to date. He's a strong (37.1%) three-point shooter who could also score at the rim. Stop him, and Virginia should have no trouble covering an 18.5 point spread. Let him catch fire, and Wahoo fans will probably have a worrisome two hours.
Leave your pre-, in-, and post-game thoughts here and as always, Go HOOS!