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Three players, two matchups, and one prediction: Virginia hosts Pitt

The ‘Hoos look to build on their winning streak at home.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Winners of eight in a row, Virginia Basketball is clearly the hottest team in the ACC. The second hottest team may be the Pitt Panthers, who’ve jumped 17 spots in KenPom’s rankings in a month. That includes wins at Duke, Georgia Tech and NC State (along with a loss at Miami). They’ve won three in a row, and are coming off that road win against NC State, way back on Wednesday. A week off isn’t always welcome when you’re rolling along.

Virginia’s improvement has largely come on the road, as the team was already playing very well at home…most of the time. There were a few bad games (Northeastern comes to mind), but they’ve managed to remain undefeated at home this season. Meanwhile, Pitt has shown they can win on the road.

Game Time: Tuesday, February 13, 7PM Eastern
Streaming: ESPN

Three Players To Watch

Blake Hinson - A 6’8” 230 forward, Blake Hinson is the leading scorer for the Panthers. He leads the team in FGA and has taken over 60% of his shots from downtown.

It isn’t just Hinton. As a team, the Panthers take over 44% of their shots from downtown. That’s 30th in the nation. They shoot it at just under 34% as a team. That’s 165th in the nation. Not a good combination. On the other hand, Virginia is 16th in three point shooting, and 296th in three point rate. Also probably not a good combination.

Hinson is at 41% on the season. He is 9th in the nation in three pointers made per game. There are too many other guys on this team taking tons of threes and not making them.

Hinson was 7-7 from three in the win over Duke. The rest of the team was 3-10.

Some of these shots are ridiculous. He almost single handedly won that game.

Carlton “Bub” Carrington - A lot of those missed threes come from freshman guard Carlton Carrington. Just over half his shots have come from behind the arc, and he’s at just 28% on those shots. Despite all that, he’s been pretty good. He had a triple double in his first game. He’s beginning to pop up on NBA draft radars, with point guard skills at 6’5”.

Carrington leads the team in assists and minutes, and is second in scoring and usage rate. A lot of their half court offense is Carrington on isos or off screens. He’s very good at getting into the lane, where he can finish, kick, or get fouled. He’s an outstanding ft shooter, so none of those options are great.

Recently, Carrington has been playing off the ball more. Fellow freshman PG outplayed Carrington against NC State. When they both are on the court, who does Reece Beekman cover?

Federiko Federiko - The Panthers big guy is really the only Panther who isn’t going to shoot a three. What he is going to do is rebound, set screens, and get roll to the basket.

He had 8 points and 11 rebounds in last year’s game, including this late bucket. Virginia led by 10 at half, but this put Pitt ahead to stay.

He’s a very good shot blocker. Zach Austin, a 6’7” transfer from Rhode Island, is as well. And they don’t give up many offensive rebounds either.

Two Key Matchups

Turnovers - Neither of these teams are prone to turning the ball over. The Wahoos are 8th nationally in lowest turnover rate, and the Panthers are 36th. But there’s a difference on the other side of the ball. The Wahoos are 24th in highest forced turnover rate, and the Panthers are 195th.

They’ve shown they can win without winning the turnover battle. In the OT win over NC State, the Hoos committed 15 turnovers, and forced just 9. The defense had to be almost perfect to pull out the win. That shouldn’t be necessary at home.

Offensive Rebounds

We haven’t had to mention rebounding much since Jordan Minor’s insertion into the lineup. He’s stabilized the interior defense and rebounding, especially against teams with real bigs.

With Minor on the court, Virginia has given up offensive rebounds on just 23.7% of shots. That would rank in the top ten nationally. With Minor off the court, that’s over 30% and would rank around 250th. Meanwhile, with Minor on the court, they collect 33.5% of their own misses, which would rank in the top 50 nationally. And with Minor off the court, they get just 23.5% of their own misses, which would rank around 330th.

FSU grabbed 33% of their own misses, but Virgnia grabbed 31% of their own. FSU had 12 second chance points to 7 for Virginia. That was, of course, largely without Minor. Against Clemson, Virginia allowed the Tigers to grab 36% of their own misses, while Virginia grabbed 42% of their own misses. Again, the Tigers had more second chance points, 13-10.

Pitt will crash the offensive glass, and it isn’t just Federiko. Their leading rebounder is 6’3” Rhode Island transfer Ishmael Leggett. Whether it is Andrew Rohde or Isaac McKneely guarding him, they need to box him out when shots go up. Leggett had 22 points on 9-16 shooting against Wake Forest. He’s a tough cover on the wings.

One Prediction

This Pitt team is solid and is playing really well right now. Hinson has almost unlimited range, and can just about win a game by himself with his shooting. But that’s really their only consistent offensive threat. You’d like to think that Tony Bennett, with some help from Ryan Dunn, can neutralize one threat.

More likely, the game is decided when Virginia has the basketball. Are they able to get good looks from outside against Pitt’s high pressure defense? Or will they settle for too many mid range jumpers? Can they force some turnovers and get some easy buckets?

Prediction: Wahoos 65, Panthers 55