The UVa men’s basketball season opener is only TEN days away, tipping off in Greensboro on November 11 against UNC-Greensboro! The Hoos face a pretty daunting out of conference schedule this year, though the lineup is not devoid of cupcakes. Let’s take a look at who Bennett’s squad will be playing before conference play begins in late December:
11/11 @ UNC-Greensboro
The Spartans host the Wahoos’ first game of the season and shouldn’t be considered much of a threat to pull off the upset. They were a 15-19 CBI team last year, but had very little success against the major conference competition, dropping all three games against ACC opponents. However, two of those losses were only 10 point games at the end, and return two of their top three scorers in Francis Alonso (G) and R.J. White (C).
Prediction: Starting the season off with a W
11/15 vs St. Francis Brooklyn
Who knows the SFC mascot? I’ll give you a hint, it’s a dog.
Anywho, the Terriers went 15-17 last year, starting the year getting blown out at BC and later losing by 45 at Louisville. They did fairly well in their conference however, going 11-7, and return their best three point threat, Yunus Hopkinson, a senior guard.
Prediction: Easy win for the Hoos.
11/20 vs Yale
The 23 win Yale Bulldogs finished last year by bouncing Baylor out of the NCAA tournament and giving Duke a bit of a scare in the second round. Four of their top five scorers from that team have since graduated, but they do return leading scorer Makai Mason (G). That’s a ton of experience and points to replace, but the Bulldogs did receive some votes in this year’s AP poll. Regardless of the roster, this game will be a much tougher test for the Hoos than the opener.
Prediction: Victory in this Battle for North Myrtle Beach Beach Week Rivalry Spanish Galleon Trophy
11/22 vs Grambling State
Yikes. Grambling State won two games last year. Total. They were 0-17 on the road. The following teams beat them by more than 40 points: GW, Purdue, Ball State, Washington, TCU, Prairie View. Nowhere to go but up for the Tigers, this year - but it won’t happen in Charlottesville.
Prediction: Big win for the Hoos. Plenty of first year minutes.
11/25 vs Iowa
The Hawkeyes have huge shoes to fill with the loss of Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury, and they will be looking for junior Dom Uhl to fill in that gap on both ends of the floor. He’s a solid, albeit streaky, shooter from deep and will really need to provide some of the strong defense Woodbury brought to the team specifically. Hyped-recruit Tyler Cook will also contribute to a successful Hawkeye team in the front court as well. The real difference in these lineups, however, will be the backcourt, in which Iowa is lacking the type of PG needed to attack the Pack Line.
Prediction: Close win.
11/26 Memphis or Providence
Memphis lost their coach, Josh Pastner, to Georgia Tech this offseason. Will that be an improvement? Yes. They have Tubby Smith now, but this team is a long way away from the Derek Rose days. Providence is a significantly better team, who would’ve beaten Carolina had their NCAAT game been refereed fairly. They’ve lost Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil though, so this will be more of rebuilding type of year for the Friars. Assuming the neutral court early season swoons of yesteryear are a thing of the past, the Hoos should make it past either of these teams with relative ease and come home EMERALD COAST CLASS CHAMPIONS.
Prediction: Solid, name-brand win.
11/30 vs Ohio State
Last year, Thad Matta brought in a top five recruiting class to Columbus and promptly missed the NCAA tournament. Only one guy, JaQuan Lyle, remains from that class of recruits - which may be a good thing? They return all of their top scorers from last year’s squad and should be looking for an improvement in team chemistry to help the still-talented roster succeed. As Matta said this summer: “We got rid of problems, but we kept solutions.”
Prediction: A potentially amped-for-revenge Buckeye team will provide a stiff test, but I like the Hoos at home.
12/03 vs West Virginia
Last year’s campaign for the Mountaineers was their best in the Big 12 so far and they should be seen as the team with the best chance to challenge Kansas in the conference (though that’s probably an unrealistic goal). Three of Coach Huggins’ top five scorers return and they’ve added a potential star freshman in Sagaba Konate (F). Jevon Carter is the big star though, and leads a talented backcourt for the ‘Neers.
Prediction: If there’s an OOC home game that should worry UVa fans, it’s this one. I’m going to temper a little of the preseason optimism and say this’ll be a loss.
12/06 vs East Carolina
The Pirates had a pretty disappointing season last year, only winning 4 conference games in the American, and dropping most of their marquee matchups (though they beat Memphis!). They do return All-AAC guard B.J. Tyson, as well as two more of their top four scorers.
Prediction: Teams with only one strong scorer rarely succeed at the JPJ. Big win for the Hoos.
12/17 vs Robert Morris
RMU is picked to finish sixth in the NEC this year, which would be a bit of an improvement from last year’s 8-10 (10-22 overall) squad. They lost both of their players who averaged double figures in scoring last year, so Kavon Stewart and Isaiah in the back court will need to step up for the Colonials to be successful.
Prediction: Shouldn’t be much of a challenge after the long exam break. Win.
12/21 @ California
The Bears were LOADED with talent last year - and promptly lost in the first round of the NCAAT to Hawaii. They only return two starters from that team: Jabari Bird (G) and Ivan Rabb (F), but do have an experience guard in Sam Singer and two 7-footers in Kingsley Okoroh and Kameron Rooks. Rabb is a wonderful player - and road games can always be tough tests, especially around the holidays. This game will be the toughest OOC road test for the Hoos outside of Villanova.
Prediction: If not for Jared Reuter, Cal would have left Cville last year with a W. West coast games can be rough as well...and Cal has a 19-game home winning streak. Close loss.
1/29 @ Villanova
As most Wahoos will remember, Villanova left their trip to Charlottesville last season with a loss, but took home a National Championship at the end of the year. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins return for the Wildcats, though they have lost Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. They should be expected to win the Big East and potentially go deep again in March. Look for a bigger role for former five star guard Jalen Brunson and a continued focus on a smaller lineup from Coach Wright.
Prediction: The Wildcats will be good - but they don’t have...anyone...that can contend with UVa’s bigs. Statement road win for the Wahoos.
So there you have it...my prediction is that Virginia will go 10-2 in the out of conference schedule. How do you think it will shake out? Leave your guess in the comments below, and stay with Streaking the Lawn as we get closer to tip-off!