For Virginia Cavaliers fans, it’s been a while since basketball season just sort of snuck up on them. By the first week of November, Hoos fans are usually ready to turn the page from football to basketball. This year though, with Virginia Football already bowl eligible with still a chance at making its first-ever ACC Championship Game, the hype leading up to the basketball season has been sneaky quiet, unless you’ve been following along with our Countdown to Tip-Off series.
Well, Virginia fans. The basketball season is officially underway today as the Hoos host Towson tonight at 7:00 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. (Make sure you go vote early in the day so you’ve got plenty of time to make it to JPJ or to a TV!)
If you haven’t been paying attention, here are 18 smart to smartish things you can say at the water cooler or during tonight’s game to make sure everyone thinks that you’re on top of everything. Plenty of links to go around if you want to go deeper (this is a Vox Media parent company joke I’m so sorry) and actually get smart.
We’ll start with some easy ones to drop, so that as the game goes on, you can drop some player-specific knowledge.
- Tony Bennett wants this team to win a national championship, inspired in a way that only the loss to UMBC can.
- Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina are once again the favorites in the ACC, but it’s the Tar Heels, not the Hoos, who are at the bottom of that list.
- Virginia Basketball is ranked No. 5 in the Preseason AP Poll.
- And even then, Virginia might be underrated, consider Braxton Key got his NCAA waiver. The Alabama transfer is expected to be good enough to possibly elevate the Hoos from a top-5 to a top-3 program.
- Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy could be the best back court in the ACC—possibly the entire country? (Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State, and Boston College all have very good back courts as well.)
- With Jack Salt, Mamadi Diakite, and Jay Huff all able to play the five, the Hoos have a ton of depth at the post.
- Virginia’s Kyle Guy has worked tremendously over the offseason to increase his range.
- It’s been basically forever since we’ve last seen him, but Jay Huff would like to remind you all that he can dunk.
- Wasn’t there supposed to be an incredible Italian on the team? Yes, but Frankie Badocchi is out indefinitely due to an undisclosed medical issue.
- De’Andre Hunter is so versatile and looks stronger than ever after his wrist injury at the end of last season. Many are projecting him as at least a fringe first round lottery pick. Also, he’s a sophomore (in a talent-rich year of college basketball).
- Virginia hasn’t really had a guy who can find his way to the foul line since Malcolm Brogdon. Braxton Key could play that role this year.
- The Hoos’ offense is more potent than the same ol’ boring story line. But you know who else is going to be surprisingly offensive (pun intended) this year? Syracuse. Tyus Battle will have support from Frank Howard, among others, to get points on the board.
- Did you hear that Mamadi Diakite trained during the offseason in Miami, working with the same trainers who helped Victor Oladipo become an NBA star?
- The Hoos return on offense more points than almost anyone in the league — only Syracuse, VT and BC return more.
- Virginia got a recruit from a 2021 guard that’s projected to be a FIVE STAR. The best part is that his name is Carson McCorkle. MCCORKLE!
- They also picked up two four-star 2019 recruits: Forward Kadin Shedrick and Combo Guard Casey Morsell.
- Towson lost 8 of their 13 players. Their top returning scorer only averaged 4.7 points per game last year.
- This is one of Virginia’s more manageable out-of-conference schedules in a few years.