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The Big Preview: George Washington

The Hoos and Colonials played last year at JPJ and the Hoos won by 17, despite some struggled shooting the ball. GW actually led at halftime, but the Hoos really locked down the defense and held GW to just 16 second half points. This year's contest will be held at GW and should be a similar matchup. Both teams are good defensively, both teams grind it out and both teams are very big.

Devon Hall and the Hoos wing players should be the difference against GW.
Devon Hall and the Hoos wing players should be the difference against GW.
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Hoos second contest of the season is against the George Washington Colonials. This is the 2nd leg of the home-and-home, and comes in DC on the campus of GW. With a large Wahoo fanbase, this game could be a glorified home game for the Hoos. Certainly GW has tried to keep UVA fans out of the arena by making it tough to get tickets, but many Virginia fans will be attending nonetheless.

Both teams are 1-0, coming off home wins over low-major teams. The Hoos, of course, walloped Morgan State 86-48. The Colonials took out the Lafayette Leopards 85-76. The game was not as close as the score indicates, as GW led by 20 at half and by double digits the entire second half until Lafayette scored 10 points in the final minute of garbage time to make it look respectable.

Last year, playing in Charlottesville, the Hoos came out flat. Though the defense kept the Hoos in it, the Colonials actually led 26-22 at halftime. The Hoos shot 9/27 in the first half, and Malcolm Brogdon even missed a FT. In the 2nd half, though, the Hoos came out firing on all cylinders and quickly tied the game. They took the lead, for good, 4 minutes in and ended up with a 59-42 win. GW shot just 5/24 in the second half as the Hoos dialed up the defense.

The Colonials return most of their main contributors from last year, but do lose 2 starters. PF John Kopriva graduated and SG Kethan Savage transferred to Butler. Savage was the Colonials best player in last year's contest and his loss will really hurt. Replacing those two in the starting lineup will likely be sophomores Yuta Watanabe and Tyler Cavanaugh. Wahoo fans may remember Cavanaugh from his two years at Wake Forest prior to transferring. Watanabe played well in last year's contest, and his outside shooting could cause problems for the Pack Line.

GW wants to play a slow, methodical game, much like the Hoos. They are big, they are physical and they play tough defense. The Colonials will start 3 players over 6'8", led by 6'10" Kevin Larsen, who is coming off a 24 point-11 rebound outing on Friday against Lafayette (he also had 3 blocks). Cavanaugh also double-doubled, with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

GW's weakness is shooting the ball. They don't shoot many 3s, and they don't shoot it particularly well. In their season opening win, they shot just 2/17 from downtown. They won by dominating the interior, particularly on the glass. Unfortunately for them, that plan won't work quite as well against a Wahoo team that historically doesn't give up much in the paint. The Hoos absolutely owned the paint on Friday against an undermanned Morgan State team.

The Hoos did not shoot the ball particularly well against Morgan State, especially early. If that continues, this game could be closer than the Hoos would like. The Hoos will not be able to grab nearly 60% of their missed shots again, so they'll need to make some more shots in this one.

And though GW is strong inside, they could struggle to contain the Hoos wings, who are going to have a big advantage in quickness on the perimeter. Certainly Malcolm Brogdon is going to be better than he was on Friday, and the strong play of Devon Hall and Darius Thompson was a nice surprise for Wahoo fans.

Last year's game was closer than the Hoos would've liked for a long time, before the Hoos pulled away. This game could be similarly tight, but the Hoos should still come away with the win as there is still a significant talent gap. Despite both teams scoring in the mid-80s in their season openers, this should be a low scoring affair, and therefore a good candidate for a Pack Line Pledge game.