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Virginia vs. UNC: Three things to watch

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Hoos head to Chapel Hill to face the Heels in a rematch from a game in December

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time this season, the Virginia Cavaliers and North Carolina Tar Heels are squaring off on the hardwood. The Hoos took the first meeting back in early December, taking out the Heels 56-47 behind 12 points from Mamadi Diakite. That previous matchup featured two top-10 teams as Virginia was ranked No. 5 with a record of 8-1, and North Carolina sat at No. 7 with a record of 6-3.

Well, things have changed a little for the Cavaliers and a LOT for the Tar Heels. Virginia is currently 16-7 (8-5 ACC, 4th place) for the season, while North Carolina is 10-14 overall (3-10 ACC, 15th). Neither team has played well offensively, with UNC 142nd and UVA 250th on KenPom. Virginia’s defense, however, is still stellar. The Cavaliers are the No. 3 overall defense in the country, and are only allowing a conference best 51.6 points per game.

Here are three things to watch for in tonight’s matchup with the Tar Heels.

Three Point Shooting

Uh, yikes. This game features the two worst three-point shooting team in the ACC, with Virginia coming in 14th at 28.8%, and North Carolina dead last at 27.9%. Even worse for the Tar Heels? They’re missing their best three-point shooter (35.3%), Brandon Robinson, who is still out with an ankle injury he sustained against Boston College. Cole Anthony (31.1%) is the next best shooter from distance on the team, but he has made just 6-of-28 (21.4%) since returning from missing 11 games due to injury.

For the Cavaliers, Woldetensae has been the guy behind the arc. The junior college transfer is shooting 36.5% on the season from three and has made 18-of-38 (47.4%) in the last five games. He’s shooting 40% in ACC play and went 3-for-4 in the previous matchup. Virginia has four players above 31% from three this season — Woldetensae, Kihei Clark, Mamadi Diakite, and Jay Huff — and the Cavaliers shot 6-for-17 against the Tar Heels back in December.

North Carolina? They went just 1-for-14 (7%) against Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena.

Bench Play

Redshirt first year Francisco Caffaro had 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting with seven rebounds in 21 minutes of play in the first matchup with UNC. First year Justin McKoy came off the bench for 17 minutes of action, scoring four points — all at the free throw line — as he provided a spark for the Hoos. Regardless of who starts (Huff vs. Stattmann vs. Morsell), the bench will have to give Virginia a lift on the road.

Roy Williams played 15 players in the first matchup, but six players played three minutes or fewer (aka they came in in garbage time). With Robinson out, you can expect the Heels to stick to a 9-man rotation.

Rebounding

Although UNC has struggled with just about everything, they’re still very good at offensive rebounding. To be fair, it’s easier to rebound 35% of your own misses when you miss 55% of your attempts, but the Tar Heels can create second-chance opportunities for themselves. In the first meeting, UNC had 10 second chance points on eight offensive rebounds and grabbed 24% of their misses.

Virginia was active on the boards first time out against the Heels, nabbing eight offensive rebounds and converting them into nine second-chance points. McKoy led the team with three offensive rebounds, keeping plays alive and allowing Virginia to work time off the clock.

Tip-off is set for 8pm on ESPN.