The last time we saw the Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team, they were sweeping Cat Barber's player of the year hopes into the dustbin, limiting the NC State guard to 14 points and five turnovers in a 20-point UVa win. Monday night, the Hoos finally return to action in a key ACC tilt at Miami.
|Virginia Offense||Miami Defense|
|Offensive Rebound %||29.3||29.6|
Virginia will look to keep its torrid streak since the Wake Forest buzzer-beater alive. In the five wins since Wake, the Hoos have outscored their opponents by 0.276 points per possession. Multiplied over Virginia's season-long tempo of 61.8 possessions per game, that's a 17-point average margin of victory. (For perspective, at UNC's 72.6-possession tempo, the margin would be more than 20 points.)
|Virginia Defense||Miami Offense|
|Offensive Rebound %||25.2
One of the keys for Virginia will be controlling Sheldon McClellan. The Canes' forward is one of the county's most efficient scorers, with a KenPom ORtg of 131.1. McClellan plays more than 30 minutes a game for Coach Larrañaga, and will no doubt be the focus of Tony Bennett's defensive gameplan.
Injuries will also play a big role in tonight's game. McClellan looked gimpy against North Carolina, but the bigger worry for Miami is Ja'Quan Newton. Newton, who plays more than 20 minutes a game as the Canes' sixth man, suffered a bone bruise in a scary moment in Chapel Hill. The sophomore guard had missed the previous game with a medical issue, and his status going forward is one of Miami's biggest question marks.
Look to see how well Virginia controls the glass. Miami is just an average offensive rebounding team, while UVa's defensive rebounding is among the best in the country. If the Hoos can limit the Canes' second chances and perhaps spark some fast breaks off long rebounds, they'll have a good shot to win.
At the other end of the floor, the assist game will match strength on strength. Virginia's ball distribution has been sharp of late, but Miami is very good at limiting the other team's assists. The pressure will be on London Perrantes to distribute well, setting up teammates for open looks or passes to open shooters.
Tip-off is at 7 PM on ESPN. The gamethread will go up shortly beforehand. Go Hoos!