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The Big Preview: UVA basketball heads North for a rematch with Boston College

Taking a look at Wednesday night’s matchup.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the Virginia Cavaliers in the stretch run and fighting for an ACC regular season championship, every game matters. Home or road, good or bad opponents, the ‘Hoos need to be up for every game. The last two games, Virginia has played down to their opponent, and needed some late game heroics to avoid a devastating loss. Going back a third game, Virginia badly outplayed Duke, but shot the ball so poorly they very nearly lost.

The last time the Boston College Eagles and the Wahoos faced off, Virginia took control of a back-and-forth game late in the first half and then ran away with a 14-2 Cavalanche early in the second half. Here is our preview from that game.

For Wahoo fans, this game was the Ryan Dunn breakout.

All three of these plays happened within about four minutes of game time. Dunn played 16 minutes, had six points, four rebounds, a block, and two steals.

The early star of the show was Quinten Post, BC’s talented big man. Post missed the first 13 games of the season, and came on somewhat slowly following his return. But by the Virginia game, at the end of January, Post was well on his way as the offensive leader of the team. He is by far the most efficient player on the team, shooting 49% (!) from downtown (on three attempts per game). But he also shoots 59% on two-pointers and has an above average assist rate, especially for a big man.

This is why having a sweet shooting big man is so useful. That is Francisco Caffaro defending, and while the Argentinian big man is a very good interior defender, he simply isn’t comfortable defending on the perimeter. Because most big men don’t shoot from outside, Caffaro can usually sit back and give space. Give space to Post and he takes the shot. Post took another triple in similar fashion shortly thereafter.

This is his next shot attempt after that make. Notice how Caffaro is close up on him now and does not give him space to get off a clean shot. And the result is a brick. Good adjustment by Caffaro and the coaching staff. Post scored a game high 24 points, but he had 14 of those in the first six minutes of the game. He made his first two three point attempts, and then finished 2-6.

When Post hit his second trey, BC had 16 points in six minutes on 5/5 shooting (4/4 from Post). Over the next 14 minutes, BC scored just 11 points on 5/20 shooting. Amazing how defending the opposing team’s best scorer can shut down their offense.

For the game, BC shot 20/49 (41%) but just 4/14 (29%) from downtown. That may be their biggest weakness as a team. They simply can’t shoot. Post is making 49%, which may be a bit over his head. Nobody else on the team is over 32% on any kind of volume. Makai Ashton-Langford and Mason Madsen have combined to shoot 29% on eight attempts per game. Against Virginia, that duo was 1/5 from downtown and 5/13 total.

BC is coming off a six-point win on the road against a lost FSU team. Post scored 21 points on 7/11 shooting (5/5 from downtown). Nobody else really shot the ball well from the field.

However, the Eagles shot 29/35 (82%) from the free throw line. BC is not particularly adept at getting to the line. They also aren’t particularly foul prone, but FSU was 30/34 (88%) from the line. 69 throws in a game is insane, and two teams combining to shoot 85% on those attempts is also insane.

Shooting the ball is something Virginia has struggled with of late. Over the past four games, all wins, Virginia is just 19/64 (30%) from downtown and 49/78 (63%) from the FT line. We have seen enough from this team that they can do better than that.

In the previous matchup, Virginia shot 6/21 (29%) from downtown while making all 10 of their free throws. Three of those three-point misses were bench players in garbage time and another was a shot block beating heave from Jayden Gardner. Remove those and it’s 6/17 (35%) which looks much better. Virginia also made 63% of their twos. All those dunks from Dunn helped, but Gardner and Reece Beekman were both on fire on mid-range shots.

We haven’t seen this much from Reece, especially recently. We need the aggressive, attacking Reece Beekman, especially as we get to March.

BC isn’t particularly good, losing at home early this season to Maine (276 on KenPom) and New Hampshire (287). But they have been much better with Post in the lineup. They swept Virginia Tech (something the Wahoos could not do), and have won six out of 10. They can absolutely win this game if Virginia continues to struggle shooting the basketball.