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3 players, 2 matchups, and 1 prediction for Virginia’s bout with Miami

The ‘Hoos will play for their seventh straight ACC win.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Quick turnaround games are always tough, but when a team is playing well they may relish the chance to get right back out there. For Virginia Basketball, riding a 6 game winning streak, that may be the case.

They were far from dominant against Clemson, and almost blew the game with some shoddy FT shooting. But a road win against a good Clemson team is a great result. Virginia is playing as well as anybody in the ACC right now.

The Hoos get the Miami Hurricanes at JPJ for this matchup. The Canes are 15-7 on the season, but just 6-5 in the ACC. They are coming off a home win over the Hokies, completing a season sweep. That is one of just two road wins for the Canes this year, the other coming at Notre Dame (and we know how hard it is to win there!).

Game Time: Monday, February 5, 7PM Eastern
TV: ESPN
Streaming: ESPN

Three Players to Watch

Norchad Omier

One of the toughest covers in the ACC, Omier is averaging 18 points and almost 10 rebounds per game. At 6’7” 240, he’s a beast inside and on the glass, but he is also nearly a 40% three point shooter this season. He doesn’t shoot it much, but his 33 attempts on the season (in 21 games) are already more than he’s attempted in three prior seasons (two at Arkansas St before transferring).

That shooting prowess extends to much of the rest of this team. They have four players among the top 400 shooters in the entire country. And that does not include Omier, who doesn’t have enough attempts to qualify. They are 29th in the nation in three point shooting. They are also 38th in two point shooting and 18th in ft shooting. This team can shoot, and the best shooter they’ve got is 6’5” Wooga Poplar, who leads the team in both threes made and three-point percentage.

Omier is very dangerous in screen actions. He can pop out for a jumper, or he can roll to the hoop.

Point guard Nigel Pack runs the action here, and Omier ends up with a layup.

Omier can also score with his back to the basket.

Jordan Minor was outstanding against Clemson’s PJ Hall on Saturday. Omier is a similar player, though somewhat less comfortable outside. Minor’s ability to make Omier work for his points is a huge factor in this game.

Matthew Cleveland

Maybe you remember this play from 2022. This was back when Cleveland was a freshman at FSU. Cleveland was a top 30 recruit who just never really settled in at FSU. That game winner was one of just 6 made threes for Cleveland that season, on 34 attempts. That’s 17%, which is very bad. Cleveland shot better last year, but struggled on a team with no outside shooting.

Miami is loaded with shooting, so this has been a better fit for Cleveland. He’s playing the best ball of his career so far. He’s made 38% from downtown (under 30% in ACC play). But he’s been so much better at getting to the rim, either slashing or in transition.

Kyshawn George

A freshman who grew up in Switzerland and went to high school in France, George began the season by scoring 0 points in 18 minutes against NJIT. He barely played over the first two weeks of the season. Now he’s starting and playing 35 minutes per game.

He’s 6’8” and he can shoot. He’s slight, so he’s not giving them much on the glass or really inside at all. But he’s shooting 42% on threes, and 43% in ACC play. He’s taken over 70% of his shots from downtown. He had 16 points on 5-8 shooting against Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Wake just loses George here. That is not good defense. Can’t leave this kid open, he can flat out shoot.

Two Key Matchups

Pace

This is a really interesting matchup stylistically. The Hoos, of course, play slow and methodical and grind every possession. The Canes are almost the opposite. They want to run, and have one of the fastest offenses in the nation. They want to get a good shot and they want to do it quick. Defensively, they aren’t going to press, but they will play tight perimeter defense.

Virgina, as we know, is very good at controlling pace. Because they are so good at forcing turnovers, they’ve gotten more transition opportunities than in years past. And that often leads to easy points. The Hoos need to balance those transition opportunities with the need to control the tempo.

Interior Play

Miami wants to spread the floor with shooters and use either isos or screens to get the ball into the paint. Then it’s either a finish or a kick to a shooter. Omier is really the only interior player they have. He’s a solid defender, but teams have been able to hurt the Canes inside. FSU won in Miami, dominating inside with 52 points in the game.

The Clemson game was the most aggressive we’ve seen Isaac McKneely going to the rim. If he continues to develop that game, his outside shot because so much deadlier. Whether it is McKneely or Reece going to the rim, or Jordan Minor in the post, Virginia needs to get the ball inside early and often against this somewhat undersized Miami lineup. Offensive rebound can also be a big factor for the Hoos.

Miami aren’t great on the glass, and don’t do much on the interior apart from Omier. They mostly get their paint buckets either in transition or off the bounce. And we know that’s hard to do against Virginia.

One Prediction

We have seen the Pack Line struggle at times against teams that can really spread the floor and shoot from outside. Wake Forest spreads the floor with shooters, and they made 10-21 from downtown in that game en route to a big win. Of course, that was more about Virginia’s poor offense than anything else.

The Virginia offense is the question for this game. Miami can shoot, and they can score. They average 80 points per game. They won’t score 80, but Virginia will have to hang with them. Hopefully, the shots are dropping for the Hoos. They are a much better team when the shots go down. That sorta goes without saying though.

Prediction: Wahoos 70, Miami 65