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The BIG Preview: Virginia Basketball vs. Hampton

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Hampton vs Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Hampton University basketball is probably best known for being one of just eight 15 seeds to knock off a 2 seed, as they beat Iowa State 58-57 in 2001. But to Virginia fans, they are probably known for 2 things. First. they were the Hoos’ first round opponent in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The good guys won that game 81-45. Second, their starting small forward is Akim Mitchell. If that name looks familiar, it’s because he’s Akil’s brother. He also played in that 2016 game, one of four Pirates currently on the roster who did so, for a total of 21 minutes and 4 points.

The Cavaliers’ past 2 games came against teams in the top 3 nationally in 3 point attempts. Hampton is one of the least trey-happy teams in the nation, attempting 220 so far. (Savannah State has attempted 563.) Obviously, pace matters for a stat like that, but Hampton plays at a fairly quick pace too, averaging 72 possessions per game (72nd in the nation).

Hampton is led in scoring by 6’0” 182 lb PG Jermaine Marrow, one of the most ball-dominant players in the nation. For you NBA fans, he’s kinda like Russell Westbrook. Only he doesn’t have Westbrook’s size, athleticism or talent. He takes well over one-third of the team’s shots and uses over 36% of their possessions, 4th-most in the nation. He’s 10th in the nation in assist rate and 17th in shot % (percentage of team shots that he takes while he’s on the floor). Despite that, he is actually very inefficient. The inefficiency is twofold. First, he leads the nation in turnovers. Second, he shoots under 40% from the field. Marrow averages 19 points and 6.5 assists per game, which look like pretty good numbers on the surface, but he isn’t helping his team.

Amazingly, Hampton has another player who takes over a quarter of the team’s shots, SG Kalin Fisher. Fisher is a much more efficient player, with one of the lowest turnover rates in the nation and a FG% of just under 50%. The other wing is TCU transfer Malique Trent-Street. He only became eligible at the end of the fall semester, so he’s only played 2 games. But he’s averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 rebounds on 58% shooting. He averaged 11 points per game as a freshman at TCU.

Up front, the Pirates have Greg Heckstall, a stretch 4 who shoots 42% from 3 and is solid on the defensive glass. He’s just 6’6” 195, so he isn’t really an interior presence. The interior guys are Trevond Barnes and Charles Wilson-Fisher. Barnes has a bit more offensive game, but Wilson-Fisher is a better defender and stronger on the boards. Both are 6’9” but neither are over 210 pounds. They are going to struggle inside against the Wahoo big men.

Hampton has played some tight games this year, but the one game they played against a real quality opponent (Xavier), they lost 96-60. That’s very likely the type of game this will be if you subtract 20 points from each team’s totals.