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ACC Tournament: Thoughts From Virginia’s Loss To Notre Dame

UVA’s freshmen took it on the chin Thursday night.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Virginia Cavaliers Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia looked sluggish and impotent in its Thursday night loss to Notre Dame in the New York Life ACC Tournament Quarterfinals. The Hoos got outplayed on both ends of the floor and never threatened after an early second-half Notre Dame run. With the loss, Tony Bennett’s squad will sit out the ACC semifinals for the first time since 2013.

I was at the Barclay’s Center Thursday night after conducting an interview with Seth Greenberg in the New York Life BGAL Live studio. Here are some morning-after takeaways:

  • Virginia’s defense failed to contain the Irish, who shot 52% and repeatedly carved up the Pack Line for open looks. Virginia’s bigs had trouble containing Bonzie Colson, but the bigger mismatch may have been on the perimeter. Matt Farrell had Ty Jerome on skates for most of the game (see photo above). Lateral defense should be a development point for Jerome in the off-season, especially as he continues to get healthier following his hip surgeries.
  • Virginia’s freshmen fell flat. After a sensational performance Wednesday, Kyle Guy went scoreless Thursday night. Notre Dame defended Guy well and didn’t allow him many open looks. Guy’s perimeter turnover early in the second half was particularly deflating. He’ll have better days, but this one was a clunker.
  • It was good to see Marial Shayok and Darius Thompson get their scoring grooves back. Shayok is most effective taking the ball to the basket, and he was able to do that quite a bit in the second half. Thompson connected on three 3’s in the first half and helped keep Virginia within striking distance. Both players add the slashing component the Virginia offense badly needs.
  • It’s hard to know how much fatigue and sickness got in UVA’s way this week, but the Hoos were a step slow all night. Isaiah Wilkins continues to struggle with conditioning as he recovers from strep throat. Virginia had a late night against Pitt, but only two players saw over 30 minutes in that game. The players might be more gassed than they’ve let on.
  • Notre Dame had almost a week to prepare for the Pack Line, and it showed. The Irish were crisp and fresh. They used effective outside shooting to soften the UVA defense in the first half, and they capitalized in the second half by attacking Virginia in the paint. A cap tip goes to Mike Brey for getting his squad ready to play in this one.
  • The Barclay’s Center continues to sparkle as an ACC tournament venue. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim may have done Brooklyn a disservice with his comments Wednesday about future ACC tournament sites. Too much attention has been paid to the anti-Greensboro sentiment, in my opinion. More attention should be focused on the Barclay’s Center, which is a top-notch arena and great place to watch a game.
  • The UVA career of London Perrantes is drawing to a close. The senior dazzled in his last home game, and he came up big down the stretch against Pitt Wednesday night. Perrantes laid an egg against the Irish. Here’s hoping that he comes out on fire in his last NCAA tournament next weekend.