What to Know
Virginia has been a contender the past few seasons in the ACC. Really ever since the Cavaliers and the Hawkeyes met in the NIT back in 2013, the Hoos have been on an upward trajectory possessing guys like Joe Harris, Justin Anderson, Anthony Gill, and Malcolm Brogdon. They lose a combined 39 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists per game from last years team with the absences of Brogdon, Gill, and Mike Tobey. Well, despite all that, this year is no different for Tony Bennet and company.
He gets back his senior point guard in London Perrantes, who has played significant minutes since he was a true freshman. He does lose Gill and Brogdon, who was the ACC Player of the Year last season, but he has guys ready to step right in. He brought in three players within Scout's top 100 and continues to reload with talent.
Even if you're a casual college basketball fan you probably know that Bennett and co. love to slow things down, bore you to death, and defend. Well, nothing has changed this season either. They've held three of their four opponents so far under 40 points with the latest coming last night against Grambling State. So, this is going to be a battle of styles that are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Hawkeyes want to run, run, run and Virginia wants to slow you down, trap you, and make your life as miserable as possible for 40 minutes.
Bennett brought in Memphis transfer Austin Nichols and after sitting out a season, he figured to factor in this season. Well, Nichols was suspended for the first couple of games, played in Virginia's second game, and then wound up being dismissed from the team. So, that does make Bennett's bench a little slimmer.
They are an experienced bunch despite losing three key seniors. Their starters include three juniors, a senior, and a sophomore. They do bring a couple of freshman (one a RS freshman) off the bench and they have been remarkably productive to start the season.
Who to Know
London Perrantes would be the first name to know if you already don't. He's their senior point guard that has had an impact for four straight seasons. He makes them go. He isn't a prolific scorer, but he can score when he wants. He takes care of the ball and makes his team better. He is currently averaging 8 points and 4 assists in about 25 minutes per game.
Marial Shayok is my second name to know after Perrantes. He's averaging 13 points per game over the first four games, and that leads the team. Shayok comes off the bench and has played right around 18 minutes a contest.
Kyle Guy is a true freshman this season and has played well early on. He was ranked as Scout's 42nd best player in the class of 2016 and averages 11 points in 17 minutes per game so far this season. The Hawkeyes struggled with true freshman Myles Powell against Seton Hall last week.
My biggest name to watch is Mamadi Diakite. Diakite redshirted last year after being ranked as Scout's 45th best player in the class of 2015. It made sense because Virginia had plenty of front court depth. This now gives him a year to get smarter and stronger. He's showing why he was ranked so high early on this season. He is averaging 7 points, 5 boards, and 3 blocks over their first three games and really protects that rim for the Hoos.
Virginia does start the 6'11" Jack Salt, but Diakite has been the impact rim protector thus far.
Stats to Know
If you've read anything I've written on college basketball you know that I am a bit of a stat junkie.
For starters, this will be the third time the Hawkeyes and Cavaliers have played each other in their history. The first time since Iowa beat them in a quarterfinal of the NIT back in 2013. The Hawkeyes are 2-0 against the Hoos overall.
Virginia's defense has been very Virginia like. They are ranked first in the nation in scoring defense allowing just 39 points per game.
Junior Darius Thompson could be a dark horse on Friday. He's averaging 10 points per game for Tony Bennett.
The Cavaliers have been the definition of consistency the past few years. They've been ranked inside the top 10 in the last 10 AP polls and 40 of the last 44. Ever since Iowa beat them in the NIT in 2013, they've taken off. They've also finished in the top 10 of the AP ranks in the last three seasons.
For Iowa, Peter Jok comes in at 15th in entire division one in scoring averaging 24.3 points per game. Nicholas Baer has been quietly efficient in terms of sharing the ball. He's totaled 13 assists compared to just two turnovers. Those numbers mirrored UVA PG Perrantes, before last night's contest against Grambling St.
Jok and true freshman Tyler Cook currently account for 40% of Iowa's scoring offense. Iowa is going to need third and fourth options because Virginia will do their best to take those two outlets away.
The Hawkeyes are 53-8 over the last six seasons when they score more than 80 points. And are 61-2 when holding opponents to less that 61 points per game, also in the last six seasons.
We'll have to wait and see if this young Hawkeye team can breakdown Virginia's suffocating defense. If they can, we'll have ourselves a ball game.null