ACC Basketball

ACC Tourney | North Carolina vs. Virginia

Will Bratton/WRAL

Virginia is just two wins away from earning a second straight ACC Tournament crown after knocking out Florida State Thursday afternoon. It was the seventh time in 10 games the Cavaliers have held an opponent to under 50 points for the game.

North Carolina also got defensive, shutting down Louisville to advance to the semis. This was their first win over a top-50 team since early January and the Tar Heels are looking to win three in a row for the first time since they won six in a row back in late January.

These two met up just once this season back on February 2. Both teams were coming off loses that involved blown leads. The game was tight for a half, as Carolina led by one at the break, but Virginia’s defense shutdown the Tar Heels in the second half. They held UNC to 11-for-29 shooting, turned it over just three times and built an 18-point lead that emptied the Dean Dome. The Cavaliers eventually won 75-64.

Four different Cavaliers scored at least 15, led by Malcolm Brogdon’s 17. Marcus Paige finished with 15, while Kennedy Meeks had 11, but the latter also turned it over six times in the paint.

Defensively there is no one better than Tony Bennett’s group. They are first in Defensive Adjustive Efficiency, fifth in defensive rebound %, third in 2P%. They collapse inside and don’t let anyone beat them with easy points in the paints. THe Carolina bigs (Meeks and Brice Johnson) will need to make quick, smart decisions, something most big men have struggled to do against Virginia.

Of course the key is hitting the deep Ball. Marcus Paige has shown signs of life. He has 18 threes in his last seven games, hitting 43% in his last three contests and even Joel Berry hit a pair against Louisville, as his confidence continues to grow.

Virginia’s front line didn’t have it’s finest game against Florida State on the offensive side of the ball, but they won’t be asked to carry the load against a top UNC interior. The points will need to come from the wing as the Tar Heels don’t have anyone strong enough to contain Brogdon and London Perrantes had his way with Paige in their last contest.

However, look for Carolina to be more aggressive, playing D above the three-point line and be aggressive in the passing lanes. Usually that’s disastrous against Virginia, but the Cavaliers have struggled to hold onto the ball lately, turning it over 47 times in their last three games. Hopefully for Virginia, Justin Anderson has shaken off some of the rust, because they could certainly use his three-ball ability to help spread things out

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: North Carolina, 68-64 


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