ACC Basketball

Cards and Cavs clash in Charlottesville

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Virginia Cavaliers get to head home to end their brutal three-game stretch. It’s a rubber game, since they split the first two, losing at home to Duke, but beating North Carolina on the road.

Coming in is Louisville and few teams are hotter right now. Since getting hammered at home by the Blue Devils, the Cardinals have rolled off four straight wins, including an impressive 18-point comeback at home against the Tar Heels. They’ve done it by relying even more on their big three of Terry Rozier, Chris Jones and Montrezl Harrell. Prior to this winning streak, the trio scored about 70% of the Cardinals’ points. However, in the last two weeks, they have produced 83% of their scoring.

The problem is, this Virginia defense will feast on a offense that lacks balance. Yes, the Cardinals’ guards are quicker, but the Cavaliers are bigger, stronger and longer and with five players up high in Tony Bennett’s defense, they typically have little problems keeping guards out of the lane. This is why Wayne Blackshear is so important. Virginia will probably double Harrell inside, so he’ll be open outside. He was the Cardinals best outside shooter (averaging about 12 per game), but he’s really struggled from deep lately, hitting just 4-18 in his last five games (averaging around six per contest in that stretch).

For Virginia, they may take their time and work that shot clock, but they are good and they are balanced offensively, with five players scoring over seven points per game. They also almost never turn the ball over and with multiple players capable of handling the rock, this team won’t get rattled by Rick Pitino’s press.

I feel like Louisville is a popular upset pick, but Justin Anderson will be tough to stop in this one if he’s allowed to sit in the corner and hit threes, but when it comes to a game-changer, my money is on Malcolm Brogdon. Assuming Rozier is stuck guarding him, I’m not sure what he will be able to do against the Virginia shooting guard. Brogdon is tall (6’5), large (a strong 215) and he’s both quick and strong and can overpower a small guard like Rozier.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Virginia, 65-6

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  1. Pingback: Virginia’s Defense Dominates the Cardinals – ACC Basketball

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