NC State Wolfpack @ #14 Virginia Cavaliers
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
Line: UVA -12
Preview of The Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia (11-3) comes into today’s game with their first 2-game losing streak of the season. They lost their last game to a hot Duke team and were trounced by a #16 ranked FSU team. Before those two losses, Virginia had been dominating the ACC, going 11-1 overall.
Virginia leans heavily off their big man Jay Huff and sharpshooting 6’8 Forward Sam Hauser who averages over 15 points a game on 44% shooting from behind the arc. Then you have Trey Murphy who can also light it up behind the arc, hitting almost half of every three he takes. After that is Kihei Clark, a 5’9 crafty senior guard who protects the ball and is constantly looking to find one of his shooters for an open look (he can also score, putting up over 10 points a game in 5 of the last 6).
As we all know, the bread and butter of this team is their defense. Though they won’t turn you over a ton, the Cavalier’s pack-line defense will wear you down and force you to take tough shots. At home, Virginia is holding teams to only 57 points per game
Keys For NC State
In their first meeting, State was able to keep the game close, and at times even take the lead. They did this by winning the rebounding battle and playing stout defense. They forced an unusually high number of turnovers for a normally mistake-free Virginia offense. But, in the end, UVA was just too big for the Pack and was able to get to the basket and free-throw line, finishing 20-22 from the line.
State will need to bring that same energy on the defensive end of the floor in this game, but you can’t expect Virginia to commit mistakes as they did in the first matchup. One of the things to note from game 1 is the lineups Keatts used for the second half. We noted that he virtually removed Seabron from the game and gave a majority of the minutes to the upperclassmen (Allen and Beverly). Now, there was likely reasons why Keatts felt good about going small. Maybe he wanted to have his vets in the game and limit turnovers. However, in our eyes, this was a mistake. To beat Virginia you have to stop Virginia, and when you allow them to isolate smaller guards and get easy buckets, they’re going to do that.
Hopefully, with the emergence and gained experience from the freshman, Keatts can really mix up his lineup for a full 40-minutes. At the end of the game in the last matchup, you really saw UVA take advantage of their size. This time around, you should see more of the freshman in the lineup as length and athleticism have really been the Achilles heel of this Cavalier team.
With that said, this is still a tall task for the freshman as they will be asked to play defense for a full 30 seconds per possession against a patient UVA offense, along with playing patient themselves on the offensive end, avoiding turnovers and bad shots. The driving lanes will be cut off, and the play will be physical. Will the freshman be ready?
If the State freshman can handle the UVA defense, and someone else besides Hellems is able to knock down shots from beyond the arc, look for State to be in a position to pull off the upset and take home their 3rd straight win.